31 Jan 2017

Sport: Frontrunners look to seal spot in OFC Champs League main draw

12:48 pm on 31 January 2017

Puaikura FC and Lupe Ole Soaga square off in a top of the table clash in the OFC Champions League Qualifier in Nuku'alofa today, with a win effectively securing a spot in the in the OFC Champions League main draw.

Cook Islands champions Puaikura thrashed Veitongo FC from Tonga 4-0 on Saturday while Lupe edged American Samoa's Utelei Youth 4-3 in their opening encounter.

Puaikura coach Matt Calcott said his side was a bit rusty first up but should be better for the game.

"We're hoping to see an improvement in combinations, possession and probably a little bit more pressure. Our pressure lines need to be improved and we'll make sure they are given the work we've done in training this morning," he told OFC.

Puaikura FC thrashed Veitongo FC 4-0 in their opening match.

Puaikura FC thrashed Veitongo FC 4-0 in their opening match. Photo: OFC Media

He said the whole squad knows how much is riding on today's game.

"It's kind of no secret that I think we may be the two strongest teams here," he said.

"I think the boys know themselves that Tuesday is very very important - it's important that whatever we do between now and then is very professional in our approach.

"It's not talked about much in the camp but the boys know that Tuesday is the big one to be honest."

Lupe Ole Soaga coach Paul Ualesi believes better discipline from his side will be the difference in what he foresees as their most challenging match.

"I know Puaikura FC have a lot of experienced players but we're going to keep our heads up and step up, focus on our game plan and work on our discipline," he told OFC.

"It will be hard with one of our good defenders Vito Laloata stood down for his red card but we're not going to get our heads down, we're going to move forward and get the other boys to step up for his position."

 Lupe Ole Soaga beat Utelei Youth FC 4-3.

Lupe Ole Soaga beat Utelei Youth FC 4-3. Photo: OFC Media

Veitongo and Utelei will clash in the later game, with both sides seeking their first points of the competition.

Discipline proved costly for Veitongo, with both Mark Uhatahi and Hemaloto Polovili stood down after receiving red cards in their first match against Puaikura FC.

"I know the boys are very disappointed after their loss on Saturday, especially Mark and Hemaloto who received red cards, they're really disappointed about what happened in the last game," coach Timote Moleni told OFC.

"I feel confident because we've always had a plan B for if we lost someone like in the last game and I know the boys will do their best tomorrow to win against Utulei Youth."

Utulei Youth coach Pita Sinapati is feeling confident after their narrow defeat to Lupe Ole Soaga.

"We know Veitongo are very physical so we need to hold our ground and do as we have practiced. Keep the ball, look for our players and finish our attempts," he told OFC.

"In the first 10 minutes we need to speed up the game, we need to make sure we don't fall back early and have to come back like in the second half of our first match. We need to play to win."

The final round of matches are on Friday.