Team Wellington’s quest to retain their Oceania crown will return them to Port Vila’s Korman Stadium to face a doggedly determined Kiwi FC side on Match Day 2 of the OFC Champions League 2019 tournament.
In Tuesday’s second Group C match hosts Erakor Golden Star entertain Fiji’s Ba FC in a potentially decisive clash as the race for a top two finish and qualification to the knockout stage of the tournament heats up.
Reigning champions Wellington will all but book their place in the quarter finals with a win, however the men from the New Zealand capital will be wary of the Samoan champions who showed plenty of spirit in their opening match against Erakor to hold the hosts for most of their match before conceding twice in the last 30 minutes.
Bouyed by that performance Kiwi FC are not willing to give up on their qualification dream and will do everything in their power in trying to upset the group favourites.
Despite growing in confidence on the back of their competitive outing against Erakor, the young Kiwi FC side will need to improve in every department in order to test the title holders, however assistant coach Ansheil Kumar promises another committed performance from his players.
“It’s not going to get any easier and we know we will have to work hard and come up with a very good game plan against Team Wellington.
“We know them very well, they are of course one of the top teams in Oceania and we will prepare ourselves accordingly, we will be ready for them,” insisted Kumar.
Team Wellington will also be looking to build on their opening victory over Ba FC, and coach Jose Figueira will be expecting another professional and clinical performance from his troops.
Happy with the way the champions kicked off their tournament, the Wellington coach is confident his side will be more used to the conditions and better equipped to handle anything thrown at them.
Refusing to get carried away, Figueira insists the defending champions will not underestimate their opponents and remain focussed on themselves.
“We will take the same approach to all our games and we take every game as it comes.
“Of course, we want to win every match and this will be important as we are potentially one match away from securing qualification to the next stage but as we did last year we take nothing for granted,” said the Wellington coach.
“I think it’s important to use our entire squad, we used all our substitutions against Ba, we need to keep everybody fresh,” added Figueira.
Another big and passionate crowd is expected at Korman Stadium to cheer on their local favourites Erakor Golden Star against a Ba FC team playing for their Champions League survival in the second Group C match on Match Day 2.
Erakor fans will be hoping for a much improved effort from their heroes following an often frustrating opening match against Kiwi FC that saw them squandering chances after chances due to their poor finishing.
The hosts can’t afford to be wasteful in front of goal when they face the Fijians who showed plenty of enterprise to push Team Wellington all the way before going down 2-0 in keenly contested affair in their opener.
Both teams will be desperate for all three points with Erakor hoping to secure their qualification to the next stage with a game to spare, while Ba looking to keep their 2019 Champions League campaign alive.
Coach Benjamin Noel says the hosts are well aware of the high stakes.
“If our first game was important the second one is even more crucial and we have to improve from the first match.
“Ba is a very good team and we can’t afford to take them lightly, we will need to work very hard to correct our mistakes if we want to compete with them.
“They played well and they played good football against Wellington, like every team in this pool they are prepared and it will be a tough match,” said the Ba FC coach.
Meanwhile, his Fijian counterpart Ronil Kumar is adamant his players will have only one goal in their minds.
“It is already a must game for us, we need all the points if we want to qualify for the next stage.
“This match could be the most important for us at this tournament, it’s crucial we improve and learn from the mistakes from our first match against Wellington, it will be a very tough match and we will need to be focussed,” Kumar explained.