High stakes for Day 2 in Oceania meet

The stakes will be high in the opening encounter of Match Day 2 of the OFC Champions League Qualifier in Tonga tomorrow.

Puaikura take on Lupe Ole Soaga in a top of the table clash before Veitongo FC and Utulei Youth battle for their first points at Loto-Tonga Soka Centre in Nuku’alofa.

Puaikura FC dominated hosts Veitongo FC 4-0 in the first day of action on 28 January and coach Matthew Calcott is confident they will continue that momentum in their match against Lupe Ole Soaga.

“A win always gives you a little bit of confidence and it’s been good to have these extra days to knit everything together. We just had a good session and I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” he said.

Calcott hopes two days of recovery and a morning spent tweaking some of the errors from their opener will lead to an improved performance from his side tomorrow.

“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 said.

After a neck-and-neck battle against American Samoa’s Utulei Youth FC, 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 said.

“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,” he added.

Veitongo will need to rethink their starting line-up before their second match at 3pm (local time) against Utulei Youth, 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 said.

Despite the suspensions, coach Timote Moleni believes his side still has the ability to win if they play a more disciplined and strategic game against their American Samoa opponents.

“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,” he added.

Utulei Youth coach Pita Sinapati is feeling confident heading into their clash with Veitongo FC after their very close loss to Lupe Ole Soaga, and is looking forward to a physical but professional game.

“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 said.

“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.”