Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

FIFA: Al-Wahda further local interest with victory over Hekari United

Posted in Asian Football, Oceania Football by peterbein on December 8, 2010

Abu Dhabi stadiumThe FIFA Club World Cup began in Abu Dhabi today with host club Al-Wahda securing their berth in the quarter-finals of the competition following a 3-0 win over underdogs Hekari United.

The tournament is being held for the second year running in the United Arab Emirates. Following the disappointment of national representatives Al-Ahli in last year’s competition, in which they lost 2-0 to Oceania champions Auckland City, Al-Wahda were determined not to suffer the ignominy of going out in the preliminary round and further local interest in this year’s tournament. Al-Wahda’s opponents were Hekari United who came to the Middle East with the status of massive underdogs following their against all odds triumph in the 2009-10 OFC O-League, in which they defeated two-time champions Waitakere United in the final, and guaranteed themselves a shot at the big time. Alas they found it tough going against the home side who were, admittedly, made to work hard for their 2-0 lead going into the half-time break. Goals from Brazilian duo Hugo and Fernando Baiano came in the last five minutes before the break and meant that the Papua New Guinea team would need a miracle to turn it around in the second half.

Sadly for Hekari, despite their greater possession, they were unable to score and they were made to rue their profligacy in front of goal. Al-Wahda just had that little bit more extra quality which made the difference and so it proved when Abdulrahim Jumaa scored the third goal with twenty minutes still to play. With only two yellow cards shown all game, one for each team, the South African referee Daniel Bennett would’ve been pleased to have such a quiet game to preside over.

Hekari United certainly didn’t disgrace themselves and can hold their heads high as they get back to normal business in January, hoping to defend the OFC O-League in order to qualify for this competition again next year. As for Al-Wahda, following a good performance, they will find it tougher in their quarter-final match-up against Asian champions Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma which will be played on Saturday, twenty-four hours after the first quarter-final which pits African champions TP Mazembe against North & Central American champions Pachuca CF.

 

FIFA: Club World Cup 2010 Preview

FIFA Club World CupFor the second year running the FIFA Club World Cup will be held in the United Arab Emirates and it looks like being yet another thrilling competition. Last year saw 2008-09 UEFA Champions League holders FC Barcelona narrowly edge out 2009 Copa Libertadores winners Estudiantes de La Plata with the Catalans needing extra-time to defeat their illustrious Argentinian opponents. This year it is expected that this truly “international” tournament will prove to be so with 2009-10 UEFA Champions League winners FC Internazionale Milano face off against their South American counterparts Internacional of Porto Alegre. But there are five other teams who hope to have their shot of glory and Stoppage Time – International Football Blog looks at all seven contenders.

INTERNAZIONALE FC – UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2009-10

The José Mourinho era may be over but Internazionale FC still go into this tournament as favourites despite some initial teething problems under new coach Rafael Benítez. Inter haven’t been crowned world champions since 1965 when they defeated Argentinian side Independiente in the old Intercontinental Cup and the Nerazzurri are desperate to add the new trophy to their list of achievements. Internazionale became European champions for the third time in their history having beaten German giants FC Bayern München 2-0 in Real Madrid’s Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, ironically where their former coach now works. Their current coach Benítez has been in the final of this tournament once before but saw his Liverpool FC side lose to a Brazilian side in the final. Will history repeat itself for the Spaniard? Inter first have to dispose any of Hekari United, Al-Wahda or Seongnam Ilhwa Chuma at the last four stage before they can think of the final.

INTERNACIONAL SC – COPA LIBERTADORES WINNERS 2010

The last South American team to win this trophy, Internacional are hoping to create history by becoming the first team to win the FIFA Club World Cup for a second time since the tournament was re-branded in 2004. Their first triumph in this competition came in 2006 in Tokyo where they defeated an FC Barcelona side who were expected to turn up and win the trophy but Inter had other ideas and Adriano Gabiru’s 82nd minute strike remains the club’s finest moment. Internacional would’ve qualified for this year’s tournament even had they have lost the Copa Libertadores final to Mexican side C.D. Guadalajara but a 5-3 aggregate victory for the Porto Alegre based side means that they travel to the UAE with the champion status they deserve. Internacional will face the winners of TP Mazembe and CF Pachuca in the semi-finals.

CF PACHUCA – CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2009-10

The champions of North and Central America are competing in this tournament for the third time which is a competition best along with Egyptians Al Ahly. Pachuca’s two previous appearances saw them exit at the quarter-final stage in 2007 before losing to Gamba Osaka in a 3rd/4th place play-off twelve months later. The Mexicans saw off the challenge from compatriots Cruz Azul in the two-legged CONCACAF Champions League final winning courtesy of the away goals rule. Following a 2-1 away defeat, Pachuca were only seconds away from disappointment as the second leg reached its dying moments. However Édgar Benítez’s last gasp goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time gave Pachuca their fourth continental title and another shot of glory at the world stage. They will face off against African champions TP Mazembe in the quarter-finals.

TP MAZEMBE – CAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2010

The Congolese side are back-to-back African champions and undoubtedly the strongest team on the African continental at the moment. Tout Puissant Mazembe, to give their official name, have come back to prominence in the last couple of years and have put four decades without the top African trophy firmly behind them. Following what was an unexpected CAF Champions League win in 2009 TP Mazembe proved their critics wrong by thrashing Tunisian champions Espérance Tunis 6-1 on aggregate and will hope to better their performance in the FIFA Club World Cup in 2009 where they failed to beat Asian champions Pohang Steelers and OFC Champions Auckland City. Coach Lamine N’Diaye has to negotiate his team’s way through the quarter-finals against CONCACAF champions CF Pachuca before they can meet Internacional SC in the last four stage.

SEONGNAM ILHWA CHUNMA – AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2010

The South Koreans may not have won a domestic trophy in four years but that didn’t prevent them from winning Asian football’s elite club competition this year. Coming from the city of Seongnam, this team qualified for the 2010 AFC Champions League as losing finalists from the 2009 K-League final which they lost to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup having defeated Iranian side Zob Ahan Isfahan in the AFC Champions League winning 3-1 in the National Stadium, Tokyo. Their reward is to play against the winners of the qualifying match between Ocenaia champions Hekari United and UAE League champions Al-Wahda in the quarter-finals. Should they be successful in their opening match a semi-final against European champions Internazionale FC awaits.

PKR HEKARI UNITED – OFC O-LEAGUE CHAMPIONS 2009-10

The rise of Papua New Guinea’s biggest club has been something of a fairytale in world football’s smallest confederation. Having only picked up just one point from their opening two group matches in the 2009-10 O-League, Hekari United then won all of their four remaining games against group opponents Lautoka FC, Tafea FC and Marist FC before going on to meet strong favourites Waitakere United in the final. The New Zealanders, twice O-League champions in the previous three years, came unstuck in the first leg in Port Moresby losing 3-0 before going on to gain some pride with a 2-1 second leg win. The 4-2 aggregate victory for Hekari signalled the first time that a club from outside Australia or New Zealand had won Oceania’s top tournament and rewards them with a qualifying match against UAE champions Al-Wahda which they’ll hope to win in order to meet Asian champions Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma.

AL-WAHDA – UNITED ARAB EMIRATES PREMIER LEAGUE WINNERS 2009-10

In order to gain some local interest FIFA has decided to include the national champions of the host nation in the last four tournaments. The middle eastern state of the United Arab Emirates hosts this tournament for a second consecutive year and it is 2009-10 Premier League champions Al-Wahda who will hope to do their country proud. Al-Wahda qualified for the tournament after winning their national championship by seven points from nearest challengers Al Jazira and they will hope to better the performance of last year’s representatives Al-Ahli who lost 2-0 to OFC Champions League winners Auckland City in the play-off round. Should Al-Wahda defeat Hekari United in this year’s play-off they will face off against Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma in the quarter-finals.

O-League: 2010-11 Season Preview

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on October 20, 2010
Hekari United

Hekari United are the defending champions

This weekend sees the beginning of a new campaign in Oceania’s elite football competition, the O-League. Having established itself as a regular feature of the football calendar since it was rebranded with a new format in 2007, the anticipation ahead of this tournament is growing mainly because of last season’s shock victory of Papua New Guinea’s PKR Hekari United FC. They beat Waitakere United 4-2 on aggregate in the 2009-10 final to put a halt to the domination from New Zealand clubs and, thus, qualify for the 2010 Club World Cup which takes place in Abu Dhabi for the second successive year in December. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog looks ahead to this year’s edition.

Last season’s surprise champions PKR Hekari United will be expecting perennial challengers Auckland City and Waitakere United to come back stronger in order to take the title from their grasp. The two Kiwi clubs have, once again, been drawn in the same group and will be fighting it out to reach another final. The eight teams in the competition have been drawn into two groups of four with the top team from each group going to next year’s two-legged final in April. Here is a quick guide to the eight teams:

GROUP A

HEKARI UNITED (Papua New Guinea)

Champions of their domestic league for the last four seasons, Hekari (formerly Souths) United made the most of their talents in order to claim a maiden O-League triumph last season having defeated Waitakere United. With new arrival Henry Fa’arodo United will be expected to score plenty of the goals again and the defending champions will hope to reach a second successive final seeing as they avoided the two New Zealand clubs in the draw.

KOLOALE FC (Solomon Islands)

National team striker Benjamin Totori has returned to his homeland following a five year stint at New Zealanders Waitakere United and he will hope that his goalscoring prowess can fire his team to a second O-League final. On the other side of the coin the loss of Henry Fa’arodo to Hekari United will be a blow to the side. The club reached the 2008-09 final in their first ever appearance in the competition but suffered at the hands of Auckland City by a comprehensive 9-4 aggregate scoreline and will hope to go one better this time around.

LAUTOKA FC (Fiji)

Lautoka FC have never reached the final of this tournament and would dearly like to become the third Fijian side to do so after their arch-rivals Ba FC reached the 2007 O-League final and Nadi FC reached the final in the tournament’s previous guise of the Oceania Clubs Championship in 1999. Both of their compatriots went on to lose their respective finals so Lautoka FC would be looking to make history should they make it all the way to the final in April.

AMICAL FC (Vanuatu)

At long last!! Tafea FC’s long reign as domestic champions is finally over (not that I’m biased against Tafea I hasten to add). After winning the Premia Divisen championship in 2010 Amical FC put an end to Tafea’s fifteen year reign at the helm and gave themselves the opportunity of playing O-League football for the first time. The club have also recruited Alick Maemae (many thanks to “Diego”, a Stoppage Time reader who informed me of this move as I had reported differently earlier) and have ambitions to make a mark on this tournament despite their inexperience.

GROUP B

WAITAKERE UNITED (New Zealand)

Last season’s defeated finalists and two-time winners of the competition in 2007 and 2008, Waitakere United are determined to reach the final of this tournament again but will have to do so without prolific striker Benjamin Totori who has gone back to the Solomon Islands. Nonetheless much of last season’s squad remains and, with a few adjustments throughout the season, player-manager Neil Emblem’s side are well-placed to make a fight on two fronts again this season.

AUCKLAND CITY (New Zealand)

Auckland City, another two-time champion having won the title in the 2006 and 2008-09 seasons, have big ambitions to get back to the top following a disappointing 2009-10 campaign. They lost out to arch-rivals Waitakere United in the group stages of this tournament last season and also saw their arch-rivals lift the domestic championship too. Now Auckland City will want to get their own back with a new coaching team of Aaron McFarland and Ramon Tribulietx plus the addition of All Whites player David Mulligan to an already large playing squad.

AS MAGENTA (New Caledonia)

AS Magenta has been a regular participant in the O-League thanks to their prolific run of success in their national championship in the last decade. With six titles to their name AS Magenta also came close to winning this competition in 2004-05 where they lost to Australians Sydney FC in the final. Will probably be fighting it out with AS Tefana to avoid the wooden spoon in Group B. 

AS TEFANA (French Polynesia)

Having won the Tahitian championship for only the second time in their history in 2010 AS Tefana will compete in the O-League for the first time and are not expected to challenge the New Zealand clubs for the top spot which would guarantee a place in the tournament final. At least they can gain some much needed experience of international competition and will want to reach a minimum of third place in the group.

Matchday 1 Fixtures

Group A: Hekari United v Amical FC

Koloale FC v Lautoka FC

Group B: Auckland City v AS Magenta

Waitakere United v AS Tefana

O-League: Hekari United create history for PNG football

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on May 2, 2010
Kema Jack

Kema Jack (left) is a football hero in Papua New Guinea after scoring three goals in the two-legged final against New Zealand champions Waitakere United

Football in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has been given a massive boost thanks to Hekari United’s 4-2 aggregate win over tournament favourites Waitakere United in the 2009-10 O-League final. Hekari United become the first club from outside Australia and New Zealand to claim the title and will become the first club from Papua New Guinea to play in the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi later this year. It is an astonishing feat for the club from Port Moresby and one which they’ll hope to take full advantage of both competitively and financially.

Hekari United won the first leg of the O-League final by three goals to nil a fortnight ago thanks to a brace from Kema Jack (pictured, left) and Solomon Islander Alick Maemae. After Waitakere United had sealed the New Zealand Football Championship last weekend the PNG side knew that they still had plenty of work to do over their more fancied opponents if they were to seal the title this Sunday.

Waitakere, who have won this competition twice before in 2007 and 2008, still harboured hopes of a fightback and these hopes were further confined after just three minutes when player-coach Neil Emblen got on the end of a Martin Bullock corner to give the New Zealanders an early second-leg, the aggregate arrears reduced to 3-1. Despite this early breakthrough the pivotal moment of the contest would come after the 35th minute of the match when Hekari United’s Alick Maemae was brought down in the box by Waitakere United goalkeeper Danny Robinson allowing Kema Jack to score his third goal of the final from the penalty spot. This gave Hekari United a 4-1 aggregate lead plus a crucial away goal meaning that the Auckland side needed to score four more without reply to win the trophy.

Sadly for Waitakere United their hopes of an O-League hat trick title had already significantly faded by the time they won a penalty kick of their own after 84 minutes. Brent Fisher converted from the spot to give Waitakere United a 2-1 win on the day but the aggregate score was 4-2 to the PNG side who held out against wave after wave of Waitakere United attacks throughout the second half. The final whistle went amid emotional scenes for the Papua New Guinea side who have now enjoyed success at the highest level of Oceania football since being established in 2003. They get the chance to play one level higher in the FIFA Club World Cup in December and the club will be dreaming of progressing far enough in the tournament to play either the European or South American champions. Nonetheless the financial guarantee of half a million American dollars for their participation in FIFA’s top club tournament will come as a welcome boost to the club who will use the money to further invest in the club’s future.

A United Front – Hekari and Waitakere reach O-League final

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on March 28, 2010
Hekari United

Hekari United topped Group B and will play Waitakere United in the OFC Champions League final

The final matches in the OFC Champions League group stage have taken place this weekend and it has been a dramatic finish especially in Group A, where New Zealand rivals Waitakere United and Auckland City fought it out once again to see which of them would be contesting Oceania’s footballing showpiece. In Group B there was a three way chase for the one final place with the fixture list proving kind to Papua New Guinea side Hekari United who led the table going into Matchday 6 and were facing wooden spoonists Marist FC whilst the other two teams Lautoka FC and Tafea FC needed to win and hope that Hekari United dropped points.

However there would be no such problems for Hekari United who scored all of their four goals in a 4-1 win against Marist FC in the first half and never looked back. The home side Marist, from the Solomon Islands, could only stand and admire the attacks from their superior opponents for whom, ironically, two Solomon Islanders would be among the goals. Henry Fa’arodo and Alick Maemae (2) did their bit to ensure that their compatriots would end up rock bottom of the table having accumulated just one point in six games (a surprise 0-0 draw away at Vanuatu champions Tafea FC) whilst Fijian Pita Bolatoga was the other scorer for Hekari who topped Group B with 13 points from six games, just one ahead of Lautoka FC who won their final match away to Tafea 3-1. Goals from Samuela Vula, Jone Vone and Sailesh Samy secured three points for the Fijians in a match which will sadly be noted for an unsavoury pitch invasion minutes from the end forcing the referee to call a premature halt to the game.

On Sunday the latest installment in New Zealand’s equivalent of the ‘Old Firm’ derby took place with Auckland City, the defending O-League champions, needing to win at home to arch-rivals Waitakere United who only needed a draw to ensure qualification to the final. Things couldn’t have started any better for United who went ahead after just three minutes, Benjamin Totori slotting home from a tight angle past Auckland custodian Jacob Spoonley but it wouldn’t be long before the home side restored parity when Daniel Kiprivcic scored from the penalty spot after his team mate Jason Hayne had been brought down inside the box. In the second half Benjamin Totori would score his and Waitakere’s second goal of the game to make things more difficult for Auckland. Just before the hour mark Totori let fly from the edge of the penalty area and scored to give United a 2-1 lead meaning that Auckland needed to score two goals without further reply to reach the final. In the 70th minute Auckland equalized for the second time when Greg Uhlmann’s header made it 2-2 and the home side would have a numerical advantage just three minutes later when Waitakere United’s Jake Butler was sent off for a second bookable offence. But despite this advantage Auckland City’s attempts at finding a third goal would ultimately prove fruitless as Waitakere United held out to secure the point they needed to qualify for the O-League final. In the other Group A game on Matchday 6 New Caledonia’s AS Magenta thrashed French Polynesians AS Manu Ura 8-1 to secure third place in the table.

The two-legged O-League final will be played on April 17th and May 2nd, Waitakere United will play the first leg in their home stadium in Auckland whilst the second leg will be played in Hekari United’s home ground in Port Moresby.

GROUP A

1. Waitakere United 6 games/12 points/+9 goal difference

2. Auckland City 6/12/+8

3. AS Magenta 6/6/+3

4. AS Manu Ura 6/1/-20

GROUP B

1. Hekari United 6/13/+8

2. Lautoka FC 6/12/+6

3. Tafea FC 6/8/-3

4. Marist FC 6/1/-11

OFC Champions League resumes with big wins for Auckland and Hekari United

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on February 13, 2010
FC Tafea

FC Tafea, perennial champions of Vanuatu, were defeated heavily away at Hekari United 4-0

The OFC Champions League, Oceania football’s showpiece club competition, resumed yesterday after a break of just over two months. With both of the four team groups having played up to the halfway point before Christmas each group resumed yesterday with matches that had major significance at the top of the respective tables. Defending champions Auckland City are in a good position to reach another final but there are still four other teams in each of the two groups who have ambitions of reaching the two-legged final on April 17th and May 2nd. “Stoppage Time” will review what has happened in the tournament so far:

GROUP A: Auckland City (Played 4 games/10 points), Waitakere United (3/5), AS Magenta (3/2), AS Manu Ura (4/1)

This group was always expected to be a two horse race between the great rivals of New Zealand football, Auckland City and Waitakere United, and their meeting scheduled for March 27th on the final matchday is already being touted as a possible group decider. After Matchday 3 the two Kiwi heavyweights were separated by just two points. Upon the resumption of the tournament it is Auckland City, the defending champions of Oceania, who have stolen a march on their rivals with a 2-0 away win in Tahiti against AS Manu Ura yesterday. Goals from Ian Hogg and Daniel Koprivcic were enough to give Auckland City, representatives in last year’s FIFA Club World Cup, three points and a healthy five point lead in the table before Waitakere United play their Matchday 4 game at home to French Polynesian side AS Magenta next Saturday.

GROUP B: Hekari United (Played 4 games/7 points), Tafea FC (4/7), Laukota FC (3/6), Marist FC (3/0)

At the halfway stage Group B was topped by Tafea FC, perennial champions of Vanuatu having won every league championship there since 1994, by just a point from Fijian side Laukota FC. With Papua New Guinea’s Hekari United on four points after three games one couldn’t discount their challenge in this tough group with only bottom side Marist FC from the Soloman Islands out of the running completely having lost all three group games so far. Yesterday the group was thrown wide open with a big 4-0 win for Hekari United at home to table-toppers Tafea FC. Goals from Alick Maemae (2), Tuimasi Manuca and Joachim Waroi allowed the Port Moresby based side to take the top spot on goal difference from Tafea. This result will give Laukota FC hope of stealing a march on the top two if they can overcome, as expected, the challenge of Marist FC tomorrow. This group could be decided by either the smallest of points margins or on goal difference as the top three will fight it out for the top spot which will guarantee a place in the O League final and the chance to qualify for the 2010 FIFA Club World Cup.