The decision to hold this year’s Group Stage of the Oceania Champions League in New Caledonia, New Zealand and Tahiti, rather than in one host nation, appears to have paid off handsomely. Prior to the final fixtures of Group C & D being completed, the cumulative attendance is already double that of the whole 2016 competition.
Thanks to the OFC YouTube channel, I caught up on the Group A matches between A.S Magenta, Central Sport, Madang and Lupe o le Soaga in New Caledonia. The highest scoring of all four groups with 34 goals in 6 games. While it may have rained goals elsewhere, Central Sport dispatching Madang 7 – 3 in their opener, the pick of the bunch quality wise was Matchday 1’s game between hosts A.S Magenta and Samoan side Lupe o le Soaga.
Magenta, boosted by the presence of former Ligue 1 and Plymouth Argyle loanee Nicolas Marin, took the lead when Marin capitalised on an indirect free kick within the penalty area to score.
The Samoan’s weren’t out of the game though, hitting back through an equally spectacular cross-shot which wrongfooted the keeper. Cherbel Kouchaba will claim it was intentional, just like any good striker would.
But Magenta prevailed, taking a lead deep into first half injury time with a long range daisycutter from Yorick Hnautra. Alas, the goalkeeper didn’t know him well.
That meant it came down the final game with Central Sport attempting to raise their goal difference in their game against Lupe o le Soaga and hoping that Madang defeated A.S Magenta. The host side were too strong though, thumping the Papua New Guinean side 5 – 0.
Averaging nearly 4 goals per game and conceding less than 1, Magenta will be strong favourites for the home tie of the two-legged semi final, particularly with the talismanic Marin leading the line.
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.