Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Oceania: Auckland City successfully defend O-League crown

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on May 13, 2012

O-League logoAuckland City are Oceania football champions for the fourth time following a single goal second leg victory over Tahitian side Tefana FC today which sealed a 3-1 aggregate win.

The New Zealand side were already defending the O-League trophy which they won last year and were made to work hard over the two legs by a Tefana team who were largely unfancied at the start of the tournament, especially after they lost their first Group A match 10-0 at the hands of Auckland’s compatriots Waitakere United.

Auckland City won the first leg 2-1 at home but the away goal for Tefana meant that the Tahitians maintained some hope of upsetting the odds to take the title in much the same way that Papua New Guineans Hekari United had done in 2010. Sadly for Tefana the dream faded away once Manel Exposito gave Auckland City a 1-0 lead just four minutes before the half-time break in the second leg, a score line which didn’t change and which secured the Kiwis a 3-1 aggregate triumph.

For Auckland City it is their fourth continental title in six years and puts them in the draw alongside 2012 CONCACAF Champions League winners Monterrey CF for the FIFA Club World Cup which will be played in Japan later this year.

FIFA: Club World Cup Team Guide – Auckland City

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on November 29, 2011

Auckland City FC logoAuckland City are beginning to make a habit out of playing in the FIFA Club World Cup. This year will see the New Zealanders make their third appearance in the competition since 2006 following another O-League success in 2010-11. They will face the Japanese champions in a qualifying play-off and, if successful, will go on to play CONCACAF Champions League holders Monterrey CF in the quarter-finals.

Auckland City qualified for the FIFA Club World Cup having won their third continental title without losing a game. With a record of four wins and two draws in the group phase City got the better of AS Magenta (New Caledonia), AS Tefana (Tahiti) and compatriots Waitakere United with a six point margin separating the two New Zealand clubs who have dominated the O-League in the last six years. In the two-legged final against Vanuatu champions Amicale FC the New Zealanders narrowly won the first leg 2-1 away from home, with goals from Manuel Exposito and Luis Corrales, before sealing the deal in style with a 4-0 return leg victory. Alex Feneridis, Daniel Koprivcic, Exposito and Adam McGeorge hit the back of the net in the home leg and, thus, ensured that the trophy would be winging its way back to Kiwitea Street following previous successes in 2006 and 2009.

Since City won the 2010-11 O-League the club has continued to go from strength to strength in this season’s competition starting off their title defence with back-to-back victories over Koloale FC (Solomon Islands) and 2009-10 champions Hekari United (Papua New Guniea). Auckland City have also began the new domestic season strongly, winning the curtain-raising ASB Charity Cup match and winning all four of their opening ASB Premiership matches. Wins against Waikato FC Hamilton, Team Wellington, Waitakere United and Young Heart Manuwatu have seen City become the only team to maintain a 100% record after four games, scoring seventeen goals and conceding just four times so far.

Having only been founded seven years ago Auckland City have come so far in such a short time but they have yet to progress beyond the quarter-finals in the FIFA Club World Cup. In 2006 they lost to African champions Al Ahly in the quarter-finals before going down to Asian winners Jeonbuk Motors in the 5th/6th play-off. The 2009 tournament proved to be slightly more successful for the New Zealanders as they won a qualifying play-off against host representatives Al Ahli before losing to CONCACAF champions Atlante CF in the quarter-finals but Auckland did have the consolation of winning that year’s 5th/6th play-off game against Africans TP Mazembe. My prediction is that Auckland City may find it difficult to get beyond the qualifying play-off round this time but they continue to do New Zealand football proud just by being there and hopefully they will show some of the attacking football which has won them many prizes domestically.

AMICALE FC v AUCKLAND CITY – FINAL, 1ST LEG

AUCKLAND CITY v AMICALE FC – FINAL, 2ND LEG

Oceania: Kiwi top two set standard in O-League

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on November 22, 2011

Auckland City O-League champions 2011Whilst the UEFA Champions League continues to take centre stage in Europe as the competition nears the end of its group phase, the equivalent tournament in the Oceania region is two rounds into the 2011-12 O-League and, as usual, the two New Zealand representatives are setting the pace for all of the others to follow.

Defending champions Auckland City and their compatriots Waitakere United have won five of the last six tournaments between them since Australian clubs decided to move to the Asian Champions League set-up in 2006. The former team won their third title in last season’s competition by defeating Vanuatu champions Amicale FC 6-1 on aggregate. In this year’s tournament, following last weekend’s round of games, Auckland lead the Group B table with a full compliment of six points from two games and a two point gap separating them from Amicale FC who they must face in their next game on January 18th, a game moved to accommodate Auckland City’s participation in the oncoming FIFA Club World Cup in December. Matchday 2 saw Auckland defeat Papua New Guinea champions Hekari United with a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Manel Expósito and Emiliano Tade ensuring that the New Zealanders go into their forthcoming FIFA Club World Cup qualification match against the host Japanese champions, as yet undecided, in good spirits.

Waitakere United, two-time winners of the O-League competition, do have a much easier group and are huge favourites to progress from Group A as winners. In their opening game they saw off the weak challenge of French Polynesia outfit Tefana FC with a massive 10-0 scoreline, Fijian international Roy Krishna helping himself to five of his team’s ten goals. Waitakere’s game last weekend saw a more sober 4-0 victory over Fijian champions Ba with four different scorers – Jone Vesikula, Ross McKenzie, Chris Bale and Sean Lovemore – finding the back of the net for the Kiwis who are expected to stroll their way into this season’s two-legged final which take place in April/May 2012. Their next group game comes against New Caledonian side AS Mont-Dore on December 3rd and nothing less than three points will satisfy United who are desperate for another shot at the Oceania crown having failed to win any of the last three tournaments including the shock 4-2 aggregate defeat to Hekari United in the 2009-10 campaign.

Oceania: Auckland City back on top in O-League (+video)

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on April 19, 2011

Auckland City won their third O-League title on Sunday defeating Vanuatu champions Amical FC by 4-0 in the second leg and 6-1 on aggregate. The win means that New Zealand retains its position as the dominant force in Oceania club football following Hekari United’s surprise win in 2010. Auckland City’s reward for winning the O-League title is to participate in the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup which takes place at the end of the year.

Oceania: Lautoka go top in goalless draw against champions

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on January 15, 2011

OFC Champions League logoFijian champions Lautoka FC have gone top of Group A in the O-League, the elite club competition for clubs in the Oceania region, with a goalless draw against defending champions Hekari United.

This game had initially been postponed due to Hekari United’s involvement in the FIFA Club World Cup in December. Played in front of an expectant crowd in Lautoka the hosts were already top of the group before the game having a better goal difference than nearest challengers Amicale FC but Hekari United were hoping to establish their credentials with a win that would have them tied on three points along with the top two. However things wouldn’t work out like that as both teams cancelled each other out in a goalless stalemate. The result means Lautoka are the only unbeaten team in the group with seven points from three games, one more than Amicale whilst Hekari United will need to perform the sort of heroics which saw them win a maiden O-League title last season as they currently have four points. Koloale FC from the Solomon Islands prop up the rest of the table with just a solitary point to their name.

The next round of matches in the O-League will be played on February 4-5 with top playing bottom in Group A, Lautoka facing off against Koloale FC whilst Hekari face a tough match away at Amicale FC. In Group B the two New Zealand teams Auckland City and Waitakere United face away trips to AS Magenta (New Caledonia) and AS Tefana (French Polynesia) respectively.

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O-League: Both groups remain tight in Oceania’s top tournament

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on December 5, 2010

O-LeagueWith 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.

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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

New Zealand: Excitement ahead of rebranded ASB Premiership

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on October 13, 2010

 

Waitakere United

Waitakere United are the defending champions in New Zealand

 

Having signed a new five-year deal with ASB Bank, the former New Zealand Football Championship (NZFC) has been rebranded into the ASB Premiership starting from the 2010-11 season and it hails a new enthusiasm for the game in this part of the world which saw its national team, the All Whites, enjoy unprecedented success in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Now the football authorities in New Zealand hope for the game to grow and standards to increase in what is traditionally a rugby union stronghold and, for that to happen, small but significant steps such as the new sponsorship deal are crucial to the league’s development. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog looks ahead to the new season.

Auckland City and Waitakere United have held a duopoly of the domestic honours since the league’s inception in 2004-05 with the former winning the championship play-offs four times and the latter winning twice including last season’s title, winning 3-1 against surprise finalists Canterbury United. New Zealand’s equivalent of the Old Firm remain the teams to beat even if they have to balance out their domestic campaign with the oncoming “O-League” – Oceania Champions League – a competition which both teams have won twice in the last five years although neither was victorious last season. Canterbury United, largely unchanged from last season, will fancy their chances of upsetting the apple cart and will want to reach another Grand Final and make it third time lucky following defeats in 2005-06 and 2009-10. Team Wellington are another team who have title ambitions having finished in third place in the 2009-10 regular season before losing in the play-offs to eventual champions Waitakere United.

Amongst the other four teams Otago United seemingly have the best chance of breaking into the top four finishing fifth in the 2009-10 regular season and only losing out on a play-off place by virtue of an inferior goal difference to eventual finalists Canterbury United. The likes of  Hawke’s Bay United and Youngheart Manawatu will be fighting it out to avoid the bottom place in the eight team league along with last season’s wooden spoonists Waikato FC who don’t look ready just yet to emulate last season’s Canterbury United side who went from worst to very nearly first. However there is a new rule in the new-look ASB Premiership which forces clubs to have five under-20 players in their squads with an obligation for three of those players to be amongst the playing staff on each matchday so this may allow a little more unpredictability in the championship.

Champions Waitakere United begin their campaign with a home tie this weekend against Team Wellington on Sunday, twenty-four hours after Auckland City opens the season with an away trip to Waikato FC. The first meeting between the Big Two will happen on November 7th when Auckland City host Waitakere United for their first home game of the domestic season. The three other games on that weekend see Otago United, Team Wellington and Youngheart Manawatu welcoming Waikato FC, Canterbury United and Hawke’s Bay United respectively. Can any of those six teams finally topple the top two and claim a first ever title? Keep in touch with Stoppage Time at all of the crucial points of the new season.

 

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.