For three of the four Group D sides, tomorrow’s final OFC Champions League matches at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara offer one last chance to make their quarterfinal dreams come true.
After a win and a draw each, Team Wellington and AS Magenta are sitting on four points, with Marist having only secured two points from two matches.
But with Match Day 3 bringing the table toppers together for a final showdown the stakes are high, especially with Marist facing Lupe Ole Soaga – a side both of the former beat relatively comfortably in their encounters.
For Lupe Ole Soaga the quarterfinals are once again out of reach, but the team’s pride won’t allow them to give up before the final match has played out.
This will make things difficult for Marist who not only need to win, but need to do it convincingly in order to keep themselves in reach of Magenta and Team Wellington.
Another draw would completely rule the hosts out of the quarterfinals. But a goal-heavy victory, and either a draw or loss for either Team Wellington or Magenta, means they will still be in with a chance.
For coach Jerry Allen that means great improvement is needed from his charges for the final encounter.
Marist have shown they’re capable of defending, and more than capable of terrorising the final third of their opponents’ half. However with a young strike force still developing their killer instinct Marist’s fate is very much in their own hands.
Veteran Abraham Iniga will be unavailable for the hosts after receiving two cautions against Magenta meaning the responsibility will fall to the younger members of the attack – Mathias Iani and Davidson Toma.
“We must try to score. We have lots of first timers in the team, the likes of Mathias Iani and Tome who are the two upfront. Hopefully they will step up for us in our last match.”
Meanwhile Lupe coach Paul Ualesi is hoping the final group game will reflect the experience gained over the past two match days.
“Three games are not easy for us, it’s all tough,” he said.
“The last one will be particularly hard because it’s the home crowd as well. It’s so hard for the boys but we just have to do our very best to compete.”
Lupe Ole Soaga [SAM] vs. Marist FC [SOL]
Lawson Tama Stadium
Honiara, Solomon Islands
Friday 2 March
Kick-off: 16h00 local (16h00 NCL / 18h00 NZL / 19h00 SAM)
Referee: David YAREBOINEN (PNG)
Assistant Referee 1: Noah KUSUNAN (PNG)
Assistant Referee 2: Jeremy GARAE (VAN)
Fourth Official: Kader ZITOUNI (TAH)
Lupe Ole Soaga
The Players: Michael Fifi’i continues to put in the on-field efforts of a player half his age. His understanding of the game is strong meaning he’s able to direct his teammates well.
Coach Quote: “We’ll take this seriously. We knew all teams would be really tough, the last one especially.”
Team List: 1. Faalavelave MATAGI (GK), 2. Vaalii FAALOGO, 3. Spencer KELI, 4. Vito LALOATA, 5. Tauati TANOAI, 6. Michael FIFI’I, 7. Lawrie LETUTUSA, 8. Darren ALATINA TALILAI, 9. Samuelu MALO, 10. Lapalapa TONI, 11. Suivai ATAGA, 12. Kareti SOAGA, 13. Vaa TAUALAI, 14. Albert BELL, 15. Faafua ATAGA (GK), 16. Andrew SETEFANO, 17. Ken KEREWI, 18. Bird VAGAIA, 19. Cihan ERBIL, 20. Luki GOSCHE, 21. Kevin AH KUOI, 22. Eti FATU (GK), 23. Johnwesley TEO
Coach: Paul UALESI [SAM]
Vital Statistics: Marist’s future rests heavily on the results of the opening match between current group leaders Magenta and Team Wellington. However from their side they need to win by a minimum of three goals, without conceding any.
The Players: Weary of leaving his post vacant too often, defender Michael Boso has found himself venturing further up the field in this year’s OFC Champions League than he’s used to. This adventurous side to his game allowed him to score in the draw with Magenta and with that taste, he’s now hungry for more.
Coach Quote: “We’ll give them a good game and make sure we can get three points from it.”
Team List: 1. Anthony TALO (GK), 2. Joachim WAROI, 3. Michael BOSO, 4. John ROFETA, 5. Jeffery BULE, 6. Robert LAUA, 7. Atkin KAUA, 8. Henry FA’ARODO, 10. Timothy BAKALE, 11. Mathias IANI, 12. Zantas KABINI (GK), 13, Natanela BERO 14. Koriak UPAIGA, 16. John AETA, 18. Thomas AMASIA, 19. Joel PAKALIKI, 20. Davidson TOME, 21. Alvin RAY, 22. Harold NAUANIA, 23. Frederick DOLA, 24. Thomas TALOGA, 25. Joachim KAIRI (GK)
Suspended: 9. Abraham INIGA
Coach: Jerry ALLEN [SOL]