Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

OFC: Auckland City and Amicale FC to meet in Champions League final

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on March 19, 2011

OFC Champions League logoNew Zealand’s Auckland City will be the favourites going into the 2010-11 OFC Champions League after completing their Group B campaign with a 5-0 drubbing of AS Tefana today. In Group A defeat for Vanuatu’s Amicale FC proved academic as they still finished top of the standings in order to qualify for the final in their first ever tournament appearance.

Five different players got on the score sheet for Auckland City as they easily disposed of the weak challenge provided by French Polynesian side AS Tefana. Ivan Vicelich and Daniel Koprivcic got the goals as the Aucklanders went in 2-0 up at the break with Andrew Milne, Ian Hogg and Albert Vidal hitting the back of the net in the second half. Two-time champions Auckland finished six points ahead of compatriots Waitakere United who finished their campaign with a 2-1 win at home to AS Magenta. The side from New Caledonia took the lead after half an hour through Benjamin Longue only for Ryan de Vries to restore parity sixty seconds later. The winning goal for Waitakere came three minutes before full time thanks to Allan Pearce but the win was too little, too late for United who can now fully concentrate on defending their national title in the coming weeks.

Group A proved to be a much tighter affair with just four points separating league leaders Amicale FC from bottom placed Hekari United. The latter, who became the first team from outside Australia and New Zealand to win the title last year, have disappointed this time around and could only salvage a 1-1 draw from their final match at home to Fijians Lautoka FC with a late goal in second half stoppage time from Andrew Setefano rescuing a point after Peni Finau had given the visitors a 38th minute lead. Group winners Amicale FC could even afford to lose their final match of the group phase after Joses Nawo scored the only goal of the game in the 83rd minute for Solomon Islands representatives Koloale FC. Despite defeat Amicale FC finished top of the standings with ten points, one ahead of Koloale and two ahead of Lautoka FC with last season’s champions propping up the rest on six points.

The two legs of this year’s OFC Champions League final will be played on April 2nd & April 16th.

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Oceania: AS Tefana shock Kiwis; Champions League Review

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on February 5, 2011

OFC Champions League logoThe Oceania Champions League has resumed action with three matches taking place this weekend, one less than scheduled due to the postponement of the game featuring AS Magenta and Auckland City due to the former’s stadium being deemed unsuitable to play the game. Despite this there was still plenty of action and goals on Matchday 4 of Oceania’s elite football competition.

Group B saw a shock as AS Tefana, representing French Polynesia, defeated two-time winners Waitakere United by three goals to one to leave the group wide open. Lorenzo and Alvin Tehau provided AS Tefana with their opening two goals by the half hour mark but the New Zealanders fought back with a goal in first half stoppage time, Allan Pearce slotting the ball home from the penalty spot. Any expected fightbacks by the Auckland-based side didn’t materialize as AS Tefana secured the three points in second half stoppage time thanks to Axel Williams. Auckland City still remain top after three games played with five points, the same number as Waitakere United who have played one game more. AS Tefana’s first victory of the campaign has taken them into third place on four points but AS Magenta, who also have four points, have that postponed game in hand.

Group A proved to be a goal-fest with thirteen strikes being scored in two games this weekend. The big winners this weekend were Solomon Islands representatives Koloale FC who put six goals past their Fijian hosts Lautoka FC. The home side actually took the lead after 10 minutes through Valerio Nawatu but the visitors took charge from that point with Jeffrey Bule, George Suri and Benjamin Tatori getting on the score sheet to make it 3-1 at the half-time break. The second half saw Koloale FC score another three times, Ezra Sale making it 4-1 on 52 minutes before Solomon Islands international Tatori claimed a hat-trick with further strikes in the 62nd and 77th minutes.

A more even game was fought in Vanuatu as defending champions Hekari United were fortunate to claim a point from their hosts Amicale FC after both teams shared six goals between them. Alick Maemae scored the only goal in a tight first half six minutes before the interval from the penalty spot but after the break the floodgates well and truly opened. Amicale FC doubled their lead through Dereck Malas before Osea Veketalesau pulled one back just before the hour mark. Fenedy Masauvakolo looked to have given the hosts victory, making the game 3-1 with just sixteen minutes remaining. But there would be a grandstand finish as Hekari United managed to reduce the deficit to 3-2 with three minutes of normal time remaining thanks to Veketalesau’s second strike of the game. Four minutes into stoppage time Malakai Tiwa secured the point for the Papua New Guinea champions leaving host side Amicale FC thinking of what might’ve been after an amazing game had finished 3-3.

With each team in Group A having played four games each Amicale FC and Lautoka FC both have seven points and must face each other in Vanuatu in three weeks time. Champions Hekari United have five points and must face another tough away trip to Solomon Islands to play bottom team Koloale FC (four points) with both teams knowing that anything less than victory will end their hopes of qualifying for the 2010-11 OFC Champions League final.

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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.

New Zealand: Race for the Play-Offs hots up

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on February 2, 2010
Auckland City FC

Auckland City FC, seen here celebrating the 2008-09 New Zealand Football Championship, are leading the way in the 2009-10 tournament.

The continuing rivalry between Auckland City and Waitakere United dominated the proceedings in the latest round of fixtures in the New Zealand Football Championship (NZFC). With both teams level on points before the game a win for either side would increase their chances of finishing first in the regular season standings. But there was more than just points at stake in this clash of the titans.

Since the beginning of the NZFC in 2004-05 these two city rivals have dominated the league. Auckland City have won the most championships winning four out of five available thus far (the only exception was Waitakere’s win in 2008) whilst Waitakere United have been crowned “Minor Premiers” (i.e. have topped the regular season standings) three times out of five with Auckland City being successful twice. The fact that the Minor Premiers and the overall champions qualify for the OFC Champions League means that these two arch-rivals have been perennial representatives of New Zealand. Since Australian clubs ceased to participate in the tournament following their move on to the Asian football scene, New Zealand’s big two have won the last four tournaments between them. Auckland City are the current OFC Champions League holders having beaten Koloale FC in last year’s final but were also successful in 2006, whilst Waitakere United won back-to-back tournaments in 2007 and 2008 so their rivalry is more than just a local dispute.

Auckland City began the game on Saturday unbeaten with 19 points from seven games, hosts Waitakere United were level on points albeit having played two games more than the league leaders. A crowd of just over two thousand witnessed the latest chapter of a fixture which always has something riding on the result. Unfortunately the crowd didn’t witness any goals in the first half although both sides did hit the woodwork on one occasion each. Thankfully for the expectant crowd it didn’t take long for the deadlock to be broken once the second half got under way. A header from Auckland City’s Chad Coombes opened the scoring on 53 minutes and they proceeded to take the game to their opponents for the next fifteen minutes. However the home side equalized in the 70th minute after some poor defending following a corner kick allowed Waitakere’s Tim Myers to prod home from close range. The final twenty minutes of the match saw the home side, buoyed by the equalizer, take the game to the champions but they were unable to grab that crucial second goal.

Elsewhere in the NZFC the chase for the fourth spots in the post-season Play-Offs remains tight although third-place Otago United cemented their place by defeating fourth-place Team Wellington 3-1. Team Wellington will now be looking over their shoulder as fifth-place Canterbury United, whose game at Hawkes Bay United was postponed, are only a point behind with two games in hand. The exotically named YoungHeart Manawatu blew their chance to go fourth when they lost 3-2 at home to Waikato FC whose win took them off the bottom of the standings, one point ahead of Hawkes Bay United. With each team playing fourteen matches in the regular season there is still a lot to play for especially as there is no relegation in the eight team NZFC and, therefore, the race for the Play-Offs is just starting to hot up in New Zealand.