Samoan champs sit out last Champions League match

By Shalveen Chand 20 May 2023, 3:48PM

Injuries have led to the OFC Champions League match between Auckland City FC and Lupe Ole Soaga SC to be called off.

This was Lupe's third pool game having lost the previous games. 

OFC said in a statement that the match will not take place due to player injuries in the Lupe Ole Soaga SC squad.

The match was scheduled to kick-off at 12pm (Vanuatu time) at Luganville’s Soccer City stadium.

OFC will now refer the matter to the appropriate bodies.

Lupe O Le Soaga left Samoa with a makeshift squad. Up to 12 players from that series will miss the finals due to registration rules.

Team manager Lai Tautiaga had said that there were a number of issues.

"There are quite a few issues which surfaced this year. And it's our first time to be informed of such regulations. But we have players who we thought that the qualifying round was sufficient for them to attend the finals; however, it was a different story.

"And also our federation has put forward our transfer window. So the majority of our players had to transfer to different clubs.

"So 12 players from the qualifying tournament left because of that reason."

Some of those players were from New Zealand, such as Jamie Mason and Harrison Bolton-Roberts, and Englishman Jared Cunniff who has returned to North Shore United in Auckland.

A spokesperson for the Oceania Football Confederation said because those players returned to New Zealand and joined other clubs, they effectively transferred and the deadline to register players for the Champions League was February 8, so those players became ineligible to compete in Vanuatu.

By Shalveen Chand 20 May 2023, 3:48PM
Samoa Observer

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