Cook Islands & Samoa win big in Day 2 of OFC Champions League Qualifiers
Although they were the only team that lost during the opening of the Oceania Football Confederation's (OFC) Champions League Qualifiers, Lupe o le Soaga from Samoa was able to get back on track after a dominating victory (13- 1) against Pago Youth during the second day of competition.
Even the Tongans felt the wrath of the Cook Islanders after Tupapa Maraerenga FC punished Veitongo FC in a 9- 2 victory.
Coverage of the 2018 Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Champions League Qualifiers is sponsored by Congresswoman Aumua Amata.
The OFC Champions League Qualifier 2018 is for the National League Champions of four countries — American Samoa, Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga. The winner and runner-up will advance to the second stage of the OFC Champions League 2018 which is the group stage hosted in four countries: Vanuatu (Group A), Tahiti (Group B), New Zealand (Group C) and the Solomon Islands (Group D).
As of now, Tupapa Maraerenga FC from the Cook Islands are the only undefeated team in the competition, with Lupe o le Soaga eyeing second. In the qualifying stage, the four teams play each other on a round-robin basis.
The winners and runners-up advance to the group stage to join 14 direct entrants. Tupapa Maraerenga has never advanced to the group stage of this competition via the Qualifier, although they appeared in the OFC Club Championships back in 2001.
The final day of the OFC Champions League Qualifiers is tomorrow, with the opening match between Lupe o le Soaga and Veitongo FC set to kick off at 12noon.
The next match up is set for 3p.m. and will be between Tupapa Maraerenga FC and Pago Youth.
TUPAPA MARAERENGA FC 9 - VEITONGO FC 2
Veitongo FC applied pressure during the opening minutes of the match, as they held possession inside Tupapa Maraerenga territory for awhile. With many opportunities to score, Veitongo FC wasn’t able to put one behind the net; instead, their shots were all over the place near the goal, but never quite precise for a point.
The Cook Islanders didn’t hesitate to bring the pressure, after seeing Veitongo FC tiring out early after numerous opportunities to strike.
Maro Bonsu Maro engineered a perfect pass to Sean Latimer after Maro’s first shot at the goal was denied by Veitongo’s goalie Motekiai Faupula – but the ball that bounced back to Maro was patiently controlled by the striker as he lured defenders his way, leaving a wide open Sean Latimer for their first goal of the game.
Latimer’s second goal of the match followed soon thereafter. Following a throw in by Hone Fowler to Sean Latimer inside Tongan territory, Latimer was able to weave his way through defenders and charge up a powerful shot at the goal for his second score of the match.
As Veitongo FC had possession after Latimer’s goal, the Tongans were able to pass the ball around to try and spread out the Cook Islanders defense for an opportunity at centerfield . Just as the Tongans finally found the opposing goalie all alone during their offensive attack, striker Soakai Vea for Veitongo FC was tackled from behind by Hone Fowler for a penalty shot.
At the same time, the Tongan striker wasn’t able to keep his cool during the time of the penalty, leading to a red card off the field by referee Peter Linney of New Zealand. The brief moment not only sent the Veitongo player out of the game for good, but it also brought them their first goal of the match, when Vai Lutu scored from the spot of the foul.
From that moment, the Tongans knew it was going to be tough to hold on, with nearly an hour left to play, but with only 10 men on the field against Cook Islands' 11.
Midway through the first half, and Maro Bonsu-Maro and Hone Fowler were each able to get on board with two more goals for Tupapa Maraerenga.
It was a 4-1 lead at halftime.
The goals kept flowing for Tupapa Maraerenga with Grover Harmon getting on board and Sean Latimer and Maro Bonsu-Maro both securing hat-trick as Hone Fowlers last goal put the Cook Islanders up with a 9-1 lead.
Midway through the second half of play, and Veitongo’s team captain was also red carded off the field by referee Peter Linney as a tackle from behind was spotted for a penalty against Veitongo as they were looking to strike for the second goal of the match.
The penalty in the box brought Vai Lutu again to strike and net his second goal of the game, bringing this one to a close with Tupapa Maraerenga FC’s second victory of the competition 9-2 over Veitongo FC.
LUPE OLE SOAGA 13 - PAGO YOUTH 1
The second match of the day was a neighborly battle between the two Samoas – Lupe o le Soaga and Pago Youth. It didn’t take long for the Westerners to get on the board after Lapalapa Toni netted their first goal of the match early in the first half of play.
Not too long after that, Pago Youth players were disappointed to see Lupe o le Soaga’s second goal coming by way of Suivai Ataga who scored within the 15th minute of the opening half.
At 25 minutes into the first half of play, Lupe o le Soaga's Lapalapa Toni was able to net his second goal of the day – which came after a penalty kick for Samoa that was blocked by Pago Youth’s goalie Moimoi Tualaulelei who wasn’t able to secure the ball, as Samoa’s passing game trafficked right in front of the goal.
Toni didn’t hesitate to put strike through traffic for his second goal of the first half.
But Pago Youth finally was able to gather themselves and utilize a good passing strategy that netted them their first and only goal of the game.
28 minutes into the first half and Pago Youth’s striker Rambo Tapui was able to lob a perfectly timed ball in front of Roy Ledoux who was en-route towards the goalie’s box.
Lupe o le Soaga’s goal keeper pursued just a bit early, as Ledoux was able to fake him out to jump to the opposite side of the goal before striking his first goal for Pago Youth.
Coming back on to the field from a water break in the first half, Lupe o le Soaga’s Suivai Ataga was able to net his first goal at the top right corner of the goal to extend their lead after a good passing strategy by full back Andrew Setefano to setup Ataga for their fourth goal of the half.
It didn’t take long for Suivai Ataga to net his second goal – as the Pago Youth defenders seemed gassed, Ataga took advantage and shot a long one from outside of the box for Lupe o le Soaga’s fifth goal of the half.
Kevin Ah Kuoi was able to shoot and score another goal for Samoa as they extended their lead 6-1 into halftime.
Suiva Ataga proved to be the team's most prolific scorer, adding two goals after the break to his first half hat-trick.
With our local team utilizing substitution due to their teammates cramping on the field and gassing out – Lupe o le Soaga striker Michael Fifi’i was able to net their final goal of the game within the 75th minute, expanding their lead 13-1.