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OCL 2016: Group B Preview

Teams: Team Wellington (New Zealand), Hekari United (Papua New Guinea), Suva F.C (Fiji), A.S Lossi (New Caledonia)

Club Logos: Difficult to get past Hekari United’s flaming football in terms of iconography. Suva F.C have a traditional black and white thing going on and Team Wellington’s star/ball combination sort of works. A.S Lossi have an awful lot going on in theirs in bright orange too.

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Team Wellington

Info: Like Auckland City, Team Wellington formed in 2004 with the creation of the NZ franchise summer football league. They have reached the playoffs in the eight team league for nine out of the last twelve seasons. Based in New Zealand’s capital, the Teedubs attract a number supporters of the OFC’s sole professional side, Wellington Phoenix, when the Nix play in Australia.

Form: Campeones, campeones, ole ole ole! Despite finishing fourth in the New Zealand league, Team Wellington showed remarkable grit in dispatching second placed Hawkes Bay United to reach the NZFC Grand FInal last month. Then they went one better, downing Auckland City FC 4 – 2 in extra time. They reached the OCL final last season and hope to go one better this year.

Where Are The Goals Coming From? Ben Harris came second in the league scoring charts this season but look out for Tom Jackson, who scored two important goals in the NZFC Grand Final in March.

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Hekari United

Info: The only club to win the Oceania Champions League that wasn’t from New Zealand, the eight times Papua New Guinea league winners have been supplanted by OCL newcomers Lae City Dwellers in the last two seasons. They also contribute the majority of the PNG national side with 13 of United’s players being called up for recent friendlies.

Form: Hekari United have finished top of the PNG regular season league in the last two years, but failed to make it through the playoffs or clinch the final game. In the 2015/16 season they went unbeaten all season, only falling to Lae City Dwellers in the Grand Final. They’ll be looking to resume their early season form in the group stages.

Where Are The Goals Coming From? Young gun Tommy Semmy bagged a few hat tricks towards the end of the 2015 – 16 PNG season while club captain Koriak Upaiga was the PNG golden boot for the competition.

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Suva F.C

Info: Awesomely known as the ‘White Fire’, Suva F.C play in an all white strip that’ll look familiar to New Zealand supporters. Suva have been around in one form or another since 1928, making them one of the oldest clubs involved in the competition this year. Since 1977 they’ve won just three championships, the last of those being in 2014.

Form: League winners in 2014 and second to Nadi FC in 2015, still racking up almost two goals a game. The 2016 season so far sees them top of the table. They’ve recruited from other Fijian teams to bolster their squad for the OCL and will look to pull off a surprise.

Where are the goals coming from? Well, new signing Samuela Drudru has scored in the two friendlies Suva played in Fiji before heading to New Zealand for the tournament. Midfielder Setareki Hughes has been an important playmaker for previous club Rewa and will be looking to impress.

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A.S Lossi

Info: A.S Lossi make their debut in the OCL this season. The New Caledonian side are no stranger to New Zealand though. In 2012 their pre-season involved games against Beachlands Maraetai, Waitakere United and the Olywhites. As one of two OCL sides hailing from French Territories, they’ve competed in France’s Coupe De France in 2007 and 2012 after winning the New Caledonia Cup the previous season.

Form: Not great this season. Or last season. A.S Lossi qualified as runners up in the 2014 edition of the Caledonian Super Ligue. This was as good as it got, with the side finishing in the lower half of the table in 2015 and have begun the 2016 season with two losses and a draw. Um. Yeah.
Where are the goals coming from? It might be better to ask how they’re going to stop them going in. There’s hope in the form of rookie keeper Thomas Schmidt, whose performances were rewarded with a recent cap for the New Caledonian national side. Strike pair Leon Wahnawe and Nathanael Hmaen will be looking to make an impact too.

Categories: OFC Champions League

John Palethorpe

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.

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