Auckland wary of Lupe o le Soaga threat
Oceania football giants, Auckland City, are not taking Lupe o le Soaga lightly after the Samoan club got their first ever win in the Champions League.
The teams will face off in the last round of Group D matches at Stade Mahina in Tahiti, with kickoff set for 5 pm Samoan time on Sunday.
Auckland City head coach, Jose Manuel Figueira, has watched Lupe closely over their first two matches; a 6-0 loss to AS Venus and a 4-3 win over Ba.
“I thought they probably actually deserved something out of that first game, the way they started the match,” Figueira said, putting the lopsided scoreline down to first-game nerves setting in after Venus took the lead.
"They've got a real desire and hunger and unity in the team and they generally start matches very, very quick, as they did in the first game and for sure in the second game where they took a huge lead, so we've got to be ready for that.”
Lupe’s win over Ba on Thursday night was the first by a Samoan club in the history of the Champions League group stage.
“They showed… that in football you can’t have an off day, there’s no time to relax and anything can happen,” Figueira said.
“Credit to them, they’ve improved year after year and we’ve gotta make sure we finish the job off on Sunday.”
With two wins from two matches, Auckland City only require a draw to lock up top spot in Group D and a home quarterfinal.
Meanwhile Lupe can progress with another unlikely win, requiring just a better result than AS Venus get against Ba in the later match.
Head coach Fa’aeanu’u Paul Ualesi said there are three keys to toppling the regional giants from New Zealand:
“Work hard, work as a team and stay humble.
"Auckland will give us some challenges but, like I said, it's good to [be] challenged. You can improve from that."
The Navy Blues squad features six All Whites, including Logan Rogerson who captained New Zealand’s Under-23s to Pacific Games gold in Samoa last year.
Auckland City FC - 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL, 4. Mario BILEN, 5. Angel BERLANGA, 6. Brian KALTACK, 7. Cameron HOWIESON, 8. Albert RIERA, 9. Myer BEVAN, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 11. Tom DOYLE, 13. Emiliano TADE, 14. Jordan VALE, 17. Andrew BLAKE, 18. Conor TRACEY, 20. Logan ROGERSON, 22. Clayton LEWIS, 23. Alfie ROGERS, 24. Cameron BROWN
Head Coach - Jose FIGUEIRA (England)
Lupe Ole Soaga SC - 2. Albert BELL, 3. Suivai ATAGA, 4. Ritchievoy UELIGITONE, 5. Tauati TANOAI, 6. Andrew SETEFANO, 7. Jamie MASON, 8. Arona MATAU, 9. Vaa TAUALAI, 10. Jarvis FILIMALAE, 11. Tomas MOSQUERA, 12. John TEO, 13. Bitner TAFILI, 14. Osa SAVELIO, 15. Ronnie BOURNE, 16. Soliai LETUTUSA, 17. Isaako SIONE, 20. Zane GREEN
Head Coach - Paul UALESI (Samoa)