SPORTS

City Start As Favourites

  Home advantage for the OFC Champions League quarterfinals is up for grabs when Auckland City FC and Lautoka FC clash at Trusts Stadium, Auckland today. According to OFC Media,
03 Mar 2018 11:22
City Start As Favourites
Lautoka FC goalkeeper Beniamino Mateinaqara makes a save in the Champions League group clash in Auckland, New Zealand on February 27, 2018. Photo: OFC Media

 

Home advantage for the OFC Champions League quarterfinals is up for grabs when Auckland City FC and Lautoka FC clash at Trusts Stadium, Auckland today.

According to OFC Media, the Fijians know they are  underdogs against the in-form Group C hosts. City have been untouchable in their first two games with respective 7-0 and 5-0 wins over AS Venus and Madang FC and only need a draw against Lautoka to secure top spot.

 

THREAT

Coach Ramon Tribulietx said his side are fully aware of what’s at stake.

“It’s going to decide top spot and therefore who plays their quarterfinal at home,” he said.

“It’s going to be a very difficult game because it’s a one-off and in a one-off game anything can happen so both teams will want to take that top spot,”

Tribulietx said Lautoka’s threat are on their front three of Osea Vakatalesau, Samuela Drudru and the OFC Champions League all-time top scorer Benjamin Totori.

“Lautoka are a good team and they’ll have a lot of good players out there. It’s one of those teams that may be comfortable without the ball because that’s when they can exploit the abilities and speed of Totori,  Vakatalesau and Drudru– they run very well into space, run very well in behind so we be aware of this team because we’re very sure that they’re going to give us a good test.”

 

HOME GAME

Lautoka have already ensured they advance beyond the group stage for the first time in their history but must win today to ensure their quarterfinal is played at Churchill Park.

Blues coach Kamal Swamy said his side respected the hosts and their achievements at regional and international levels.

But we had been scouring the footage for any signs of weakness.

Kamal and even called in the help of Vodafone Fijian football coach Christophe Gamel, with the Frenchman in town to scout potential players for upcoming international fixtures.

“We must realise that Auckland are a champion side and had been winning this competition for so many years. We do respect them but we will give our best shot,” Swamy said.

“If you watched how Madang played in the second half they gave them a really good go when they held possession so if we keep possession we have an outside chance to beat them.”

Kamal acknowledged that they might face long periods without the ball and said it would be crucial to hold their nerve before creating and capitalising on opportunities when they win the ball back.

“We’ll be working on the out-of-possession side and our national coach has also been helping.  The boys will need to be focussed for 90 minutes so they don’t make silly mistakes so we can counter them.”

Edited by  Grace Narayan

 

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