O-League: Both groups remain tight in Oceania’s top tournament
With defending champions Hekari United missing from action this weekend due to their commitments in the FIFA Club World Cup next week, the Oceania Champions League matchday 3 was otherwise played out by six other teams. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog looks at the latest developments as the group phase reaches its halfway point.
Group A saw the postponement of the fixture between defending champions Hekari United and table-topping Lautoka FC due to the former’s commitments in the FIFA Club World Cup which begins on Thursday. Because of this Lautoka’s place at the top was under threat by Vanuatu champions Amical FC who needed to defeat Koloale FC from the Solomon Islands in order to leapfrog the Fijians at the top. This they duly did thanks to a first-half brace from Fenedy Masauvakalu and the three points took Amical to the top on goal difference, both they and Lautoka FC having six points each. Lautoka’s game in hand against Hekari United will now be played on January 15th.
Group B remains tight with just one point separating the top three teams. This was in no small part to this weekend’s results as both fixtures ended up 1-1. New Zealand clubs Waitakere United and Auckland City, both joint favourites to top the group, could only muster draws away to AS Magenta and AS Tefana respectively. Waitakere United took the lead in their game in New Caledonia after Allan Pearce had scored with twenty minutes to go. AS Magenta equalized just seven minutes later, Francis Watrone restoring parity for Magenta who, as a result, keep in touch with the New Zealanders in the group standings. Auckland City had to hit back very late in the game in order to rescue a point in their fixture in French Polynesia. Tetiamana Marmouyet gave AS Tefana the lead early in the second half but any chance of the home side claiming their first three points of the campaign were dashed in stoppage time as Angel Berlanga rescued a point for the Kiwis. Both New Zealand clubs have five points from three games, AS Magenta just a point further behind whilst AS Tefana prop up the rest with the one point they gained today.