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Two spots to take for the OFC Champions League

The OFC Champions League qualifiers will start on 26 January and finish on 2 February on mycujoo. In Cook Islands, four teams will compete for two spots in the group stage.

OFC Champions League qualifiers 2018

Photo courtesy of OFC / Phototek

And it is that time of the year again : the OFC Champions League qualifiers is starting ! From 26 January until 2 February, four teams will play a round-robin in Cook Islands, with the winners and runners-up to qualify for the Group stage.

Follow the OFC Champions League qualifiers on mycujoo

The four teams are Pago Youth, champions of the American Samoa, Tupapa Mararenga, champions of Cook Islands, Kiwi, champions of Samoa, and Lotoha’apai United, champions of Tonga. For the hosts, the hopes are high, and the wish to do better than three years ago as well.

"In 2016 we did host the tournament and we got ourselves into a real comfortable position after the first game and then in our second game everything just changed and so we ended up finishing second in the tournament, which is quite hard to swallow playing at home", reminded Delaney Yaqona, the coach of the Avarua club, in an interview with Radionz.

"Now that we've got it back here and we're hosting again that is definitely the aim to win the tournament and put us in a good position for the next stage, the Champions League. But of course that brings its pressure, as it normally does, but hopefully this time the boys are better prepared and a bit more experienced - let's put it that way - playing in front of our home crowd", he added.

Last year, Tupapa won the qualifying tournament held in American Samoa and as a consequence, made it to the Group stage together with Lupe e lo Soaga, from Samoa.

Strong opposition

But this year, the opposition looks strong enough again. Kiwi will represent Samoa after having won the national championship for the first time since 2014, at the end of an epic race with Lupe. Very offensive, the team can count on a great striker, Samuelu Malo, golden boot of the season. Lotoha’apai United should also be taken seriously : 15 national titles and multiple participations to the Continental showdown speak for themselves...

The two best teams of this round will then participate to the group stage of the OFC Champions League, joining 14 clubs coming from seven countries: Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Vanuatu. The trophy holders are Team Wellington from New Zealand, who have won their very first continental title last year, beating Lautoka (Fiji).

For the group stage, the 16 teams are drawn into four groups. The winners and runners-up of each group will advance to the quarter-finals. In the quarter-finals and semi-finals, each game is played home-and-away, while the final is played as a single match.

Follow the OFC Champions League qualifiers on mycujoo