Debutants versus one of the most consistent teams in the Oceania Champions League. A mismatch in experience, perhaps, but to qualify for the Champions League you’ve got to be a league winner, or as near as.
More importantly, this was the first game where there were actual supporters groups cheering on their teams. Hekari United’s wider squad and friends came decked out in red, black and stars, clustering around the far end of the QBE’s main stand. A.S Lossi, obviously clued up on New Zealand tradition, accumulated in Block 5. The best way to describe A.S Lossi was a seriously excited and unflinchingly supportive group of whaea whose voices could be heard throughout the game.
They needed to be heard. Less than two minutes were on the clock when Hekari’s Joses Nawo latched onto a short pass from Tommy Semmy and struck a low shot towards goal. Keeper Michel Hne got a hand to it, but probably could have done better.
Fewer than ten minutes on the clock when Hekari United scored again. The impressive Semmy bamboozled a defender by letting the ball run across him and drove on into the box before firing the ball straight at the luckless Hne, who deflected it in via his foot. Ouch.
Lossi weren’t out of it though and showed flashes of fluid movement and passing. They produced one brilliant sequence down the left and won a free kick. A half hour had passed as their captain Dick Kama leapt at the far post and thumped a header into the net. The Lossi whaea cheered and whooped, “ALLEZ LES GARCONS!”
The comeback was short lived though, as Hekari scored a contendor for goal of the tournament. The powerful, industrious Semmy caused havoc for the Lossi defence and crossed a beautiful ball in for the onrushing Wira Wama who hammered a volley home.
Half Time: A.S Lossi 1 – 3 Hekari United
During the half time break I leant towards Auckland City super-fan and globe trotter Edward Lyons and asked if the canopy over the subs bench was broken when the game started. We weren’t sure. A moment later an official looking Lossi member was in conversation with an OFC suit. Looks like one of the Lossi subs had punched the air when their team scored, breaking the thick plastic. Love the passion lads, just mind the furniture eh?
The second half started scrappily, with a yellow card dished out to either team. “Bad boy!” shouted an orange clad whaea as the referee took a Hekari united name.
United extended their lead ten minutes in, a free kick resulting from Lossi’s booking whipped into the near post where Gagame Feni produced a Zlatanesque flick past the keeper. It took bravery to get there, but skill to pull it off. 1 – 4.
Lossi kept at it, although their earlier smooth passing became disjointed and they were often let down by telegraphing long passes to their opponents who quickly snuffed them out. “Allez Lossi!” came the cry from the stands as Michel Hne made up for earlier errors with a series of good stops against Semmy.
Hekari’s fifth goal came in the last fifteen minutes, the ball dropping to the edge of the box for Emmanuel Simon. The keeper could do little about it, and Lossi could do little more to try and keep the goal difference down.
Full Time: A.S Lossi 1 – 5 Hekari United
Lossi had a lot of heart and the most vocal support of the two sides. You didn’t really see where their goal threat was though, but the passing was nice.
Hekari look dangerous, particularly Tommy Semmy who I reckon will worry Wellington with his pace and power.
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.