All to play for on final Match Day of Champions League Qualifier
Fans of both Lotoha’apai United FC and Kiwi FC are in for a nervous ride on the third and final day at the OFC Champions League 2019 - Qualifying Stage tournament hosted by the Cook Islands Football Association in Rarotonga.
As local favourites Tupapa Maraerenga FC have already secured their passage to the OFC Champions League Group Stage, the Tongan and Samoan champions will face each other in a winner takes all clash to grab the second available spot on offer in the next phase of the region’s premier club football competition.
Due to their better goal difference Tongan hopefuls Lotoha’apai United FC will need only a draw against their Samoan rivals Kiwi FC in order two finish in the top two, but coach Lui Muavesi insists his side will be playing for victory.
“Tomorrow’s game will be the most important game for us in this competition here in the Cook Islands and we will play hard because a win will be good for Tonga football.
“We are in a good position as a win or a draw is enough to qualify but we are not going for the draw, we want to win to become the number two team and qualify for the second round,” explained the coach of Lotoha’apai.
With a fierce rivalry between sporting teams representing these two proud Pacific nations, Muavesi is expecting a keenly contested match.
“Playing against our neighbours from Samoa, it’s always going to be a tough game, it’s like a war and at the end of the game the best team wins but in tomorrow’s game we are not underestimating our opponent, this is football and you can make a mistake in the first minute and you can lose the game, like it happened with us against Tupapa.
“It’s a do -or-die match and we have to play hard so we will play until the end of the final whistle,” he added.
Martin Tamasese in charge of Kiwi FC is also adamant his side is fully aware of the significance of tomorrow’s match and will be up for the challenge.
“This is the most important game for us because if we win we qualify but if lose we will it’s over and that’s the reason why we are preparing hard and work on some of the problems our players and our team faced during our last game against Pago Youth from American Samoa.
“I’ve seen Lotoha’apai playing, they play really well but I know our boys can manage to give a good game against Lotoha’apai,” Tamasese declared.
2019 OFC Champions League 2019 - Qualifying Stage
Lotoha’apai United FC [LOT] vs. Kiwi FC [KIW]
Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Friday 1 February local (Saturday 2 Feb Samoa time)
Referee: Peter LINNEY (NZL)
Assistant Referee 1: David CHARLES (NCL)
Assistant Referee 2: Marc SINYUE (NCL)
Fourth Official: Veer SINGH (FIJ)
Lotoha’apai United FC
Team List: 1. Sinilau TAUFA (GK), 2. Simi MOIMOI, 4. Oliveti VAI, 5. Laulea TAUFA, 6. Pua FALEPAPALANGI, 7. Tuia FALEPAPALANGI, 8. Maliele PAPANI, 9. Soakai VEA, 10. Hema POLOVILI, 11. Semisi OTUKOLO, 12. Vai LUTU, 13. Folauhola MESUI, 14. Pita HUNI, 15. Manu TU’ALAU, 16. Sitaleki FISI, 17. Timote FAKSIIEIKI, 18. David ANAU
Suspended: 3. Sione UHATAHI
Coach: Lui MUAVESI (FIJ)
Team List: 1. Eti FATU (GK), 3. FEDERICO DIAZ, 4. Ken KEREWI, 5. Kitiona NAUER, 6. Andrew SETEFANO, 7. Jarell SALE, 9. Samuelo MALO, 10. Paul SCANLAN, 11. Falaniko NANUMEA, 12. Timote FONI, 13. Lionel TAYLOR, 14. Lafi IOANE, 15. Lotial MANO, 16. Silao MALO, 17. Tavita TO’O, 18. Janardhan GOSWAMI, 19. Ansheil KUMAR, 21. Semu FAIMATA (GK)
Coach: Martin TAMASESE (SAM)
For LIVE STREAM link