American Samoa side Pago Youth, Kiwi FC from Samoa and Tonga’s Lotoha’apai United will take on Tupapa Maraerenga FC in a three-round qualifier.
In the opening round this Saturday, Pago Youth will take on Lotoha’apai United at 2.30pm before Tupapa Maraerenga FC battles Kiwi FC at 5.30pm at the CIFA Complex in Matavera.
The American Samoan side wasted no time yesterday, getting into an afternoon run to shrug off the jetlag.
Pago Youth currently plays in the FFAS Senior League, the nation’s top-division football league.
The side has won the league seven times, making them the most successful club in American Samoa.
Lotoha’apai United plays in Tonga Major League. The team is record champion of the league and made its continental debut in the 1999 Oceania Club Championship preliminary round.
In the preliminary round of the 2012 OFC Champions League Qualifiers, Lotoha’apai finished second in the group on goal difference to Tupapa Maraerenga and did not progress. The side comprises a number of Tongan football reps.
Kiwi FC which plays in the Samoa National League is the leading title holder with seven leagues and two cups wins.
The side has played in the OFC Champions League before, and is expected to be Tupapa Maraerenga’s toughest challenge in the qualifiers.
Home advantage will no doubt make Tupapa Maraerenga the top bet in the qualifiers.
The Delaney Yagona-coached side took part in the OFC Champions League last year and will be hoping to qualify again this year.
The winner and runner-up from this qualifiers will join 16 other teams from around the region for the OFC Champions League. Cook Islands Football competition manager Pauline Dean said they were looking forward to some tough games in the qualifiers.
“It will be a week of football action and friends and family are encouraged to head out to the CIFA complex to support their teams.”
Saturday, Jan 26: 2.30pm Pago Youth-Lotoha'apai, 5.30pm Tupapa Maraerenga FC-Kiwi FC; Tuesday, Jan 29: 2.30pm Kiwi FC-Pago Youth, 5.30pm Tupapa Maraerenga FC-Lotoha'apai; Friday, Feb 1: 2.30pm Lotoha'apai-Kiwi FC, 5.30pm Tupapa Maraerenga FC-Pago Youth.