OCL 2016: Group A Preview
Teams: Auckland City FC (New Zealand), Amicale F.C (Vanuatu), Lae City Dwellers (Papua New Guinea), Solomon Warriors (Solomon Islands)
Depends on what takes your fancy. Auckland City have that smooth modern designer logo, Amicale include the red rooster of their moniker, the Solomon Warriors go ultra-traditional and Lae City Dwellers are the only team with an actual football on their badge. Nice.
Auckland City F.C
Info: Formed in 2004, ACFC have won the OCL six times. Considering the competition has only been staged nine times that’s not bad (City also won the old Oceania Club Champsionship in 2006). That’s dominance, that is. They’re seeking to beat Real Madrid’s record of five Champions League titles in a row by winning this year.
Form: It’s not been plain sailing for Auckland in the 2015 – 16 season as they failed to win the New Zealand Football Championship in March, losing 4 – 2 to fellow OCL contender and last season’s finalists Team Wellington.
Where are the goals coming from? Hard to look past City’s league golden boot Ryan De Vries, who scored 15 times for the Navy Blues this season. In midfield Micah Lea’alafa will hope to bring pace and trickery to the City attack while evergreen Emiliano Tade has dropped into a playmaker position of late.
Info: Amicale, or Digicel Amicale Football Club to give them their proper name, are OCL regulars having competed in every single edition since 2010. They’ve reached the final twice, only to be defeated 6 -1 on aggregate by Auckland City in 2011 and lose 3 -2 against the same side in 2014. They have a new coach in Mauro Bertoni, who is confident they can make an impact.
Form: Smashing it in the Vanuatu pre-season this year, their most recent result being an 11 – 0 thrashing of ABM Galaxy F.C in an inter-league cup competition. They qualified for this years competition by beating Malampa Revivors 3 – 0 in the VFF National Super League.
Where are the goals coming from? Striker Diego Nadaya has scored 13 goals in 8 matches so far this year already and Amicale can also call on former ACFC striker Adam Dickinson. Vanuatu national team captain Fenedy Masauvakalo, who top scored in the competition back in 2011, will be hoping he can lead his side to success.
Lae City Dwellers F.C
Info: Formed in 2014 after the collapse of Lae F.C, the Papua New Guinea side has won back to back titles in the City Pharmacy Soccer League, supplanting fellow PNG OCL side Hekari United. The club had six players in PNG’s recent 2 – 1 victory over a Solomon Islands side featuring NZFC legend Benjamin Totori, with Lae’s players providing the goals.
Form: Champions, of course! The Dwellers beat Hekari United 2 – 0 in the final of the Telikom National Soccer League in March and will compete in next year’s OCL as well. Fancy.
Where are the goals coming from: Star striker Raymond Gunemba scored a goal a game in the 2015 – 16 season and also netted for the PNG national side this week. Midfielder Michael Foster will also be hoping to pull the strings for his side in the middle of the park.
Info: Founded in 1981 as a seven-a-side team, the team formerly known as Uncles F.C have rebranded as the Solomon Warriors and consistently compete for Solomon Island’s S-League title. One of their former players is Auckland City’s live-wire Micah Lea’alafa.
Form: If you thought Auckland City were dominant, you’ll love the Warriors. They’ve lost four regular season league games since 2011 and yet still didn’t come top of the league in two of those years. In their most recent regular season they conceded 14 goals and whacked in 51 in just fifteen games.
Where are the goals coming from: If you can score 54 goals in 15 games, potentially everyone from the ‘keeper forward might have their eye in. Kensi Tangis, theVanuatu international striker, has been in good form and will be looking to make his mark.
OFC Logo By BANSBag (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Categories: OFC Champions League
John Palethorpe lives in South Auckland which is very far away from Fratton Park and Champion Hill. Having been told there was no football in New Zealand, he was delighted to find that there is.