Both Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia have decided their representatives to this year’s OFC Champions League.
This year’s OCL has kept the format from last year: Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tahiti and Vanuatu will all conduct national playoffs between their two representatives, instead of them entering the group stage.
The four other nations, American Samoa, Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga play a preliminary qualifying round as usual.
The seven national playoff winners will then enter the group stage, alongside the winner of the preliminary qualifying.
PNG and NCL
In PNG it was Hekari United who beat Lae City to secure their OCL spot this weekend. After beating Lae 2-1 in the first leg, Hekari finished the job on Saturday as they scored twice late on to win 2-0 on the day, and 4-1 on aggregate.
While New Caledonia will have a new representative this year, with Tiga Sport beating out 2019 OCL Champions Hienghène.
Tiga Sport were supposed to play in the 2021 edition of the OCL, but that was cancelled due to the Covid pandemic.
Now they will finally make their debut this year, after thoroughly beating Hienghène. 3-1 in the first leg, and two early goals in the match this weekend, saw them win 5-1 on aggregate.
Lupe on fire
In the preliminary qualifying round, which kicked off this weekend, it was hosts Lupe Ole Soaga from Samoa who put on a masterclass.
Against newcomers Ilaoa & To’omata from neighbouring American Samoa, the host side didn’t let up until the final score read 13-0 (!).
The man of the match was Tumua Leo, who scored five times in the beating of Ilaoa.
In the other match of the prelim group, Tuapapa Maraerenga from the Cook Islands capitalized on an early penalty, to beat Tongan side Veitongo 1-0.
Matches to come
In Tahiti AS Pirae beat AS Dragon in the first leg and hold a 2-0 lead before the final leg next Friday.
Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu will all conduct their national playoffs in the following week and a half, while New Zealand will do theirs in the middle of March.
The preliminary qualifier will continue on February 21st, before finishing on February 24th.