Group D still an open race

AS Magenta were the only side to pick up three points from their opening match in Honiara, but they’ll need to do the business again Tuesday against the home side Marist if they want to keep their OFC Champions League campaign alive.

Team Wellington are also keen to secure a win and keep the dream alive, after dropping their first ever Group Stage points in the draw with Marist, when they face Samoa club champions Lupe Ole Soaga in the opening match at Lawson Tama Tuesday.

In the three previous OFC Champions League editions they’ve featured in, Team Wellington had never lost or drawn a match which makes the 1-1 draw against the favourites from New Zealand a feat for Marist.

However it means things will be even tougher for Paul Ualesi’s Lupe Ole Soaga side as their opponents push to secure the sought after three points and set the ship back on course for quarterfinal qualification.

“We know it’s a big challenge, a huge challenge,” Ualesi said.

“But it’s good to challenge the boys and also me as well as a coach. We understand it will be hard, we’ll work on a different defence and even on the attack. The boys are prepared for what approach Team Wellington takes.”

Having seen a fairly solid display from Lupe Ole Soaga defensively, and some threatening counter attacks, Team Wellington’s Jose Figueira knows it won’t be a simple job.

However he said his side is determined to register a win tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon.

“We’re feeling a lot more comfortable and having a game under our belts as well helps, we’re that much more prepared and looking that much sharper for tomorrow’s game,” Figueira said.

“I think in any game the objective is to win, we’ve got high standards. I think I said after the first game, every game we play we want to win but we want to do it our way obviously, and our way – controlling the ball, controlling the game – becomes even more important in thse conditions.”

Following the opener between Lupe Ole Soaga and Team Wellington, home side Marist will gear up for their second match of the tournament against AS Magenta – who are hoping they’ll still have their lead on the table after this encounter.

Magenta coach Alain Moizan wasn’t 100 per cent happy with his side’s performance despite picking up the three points, believing them to have let a lot of chances go astray which he put down to a lack of desire.

After a couple of days rest and time to reflect on that first outing, he hopes the team show greater conviction against Marist.

“We’re ready, yes. We prepare for this so it will be an exciting match to play,” Moizan said.

“Marist seemed to sit and wait for the Wellington team and they had to the opportunity to score first which was good, because it meant Wellington had to come back.

“The ideal for us tomorrow (Tuesday) is for us to score before them and force them to come out.”

Marist let a one goal lead slip from their grasp meaning they had to share the points with their opponent on Saturday.

Coach Jerry Allen doesn’t want to see a repeat.

“I think during the first game we played well but we didn’t score our chances,” he said.

“I think tomorrow it’s going to be a tough game for us as well. They want the three points, us, we want the three points. I know how they play and we’ll be doing a lot of running, they’ll try to play our wide and go for crosses.

“We can’t allow them to do crosses and have to shut them down.”

Team Wellington and Lupe Ole Soaga will open the action of Match Day 2 at 1pm (local time) before Marist play AS Magenta at 4pm (local time).