The rain in the past two days resulted in a flooded training pitch and the main pitch at the CIFA Complex in Matavera looked soggy.
However CIFA’s competition manager Pauline Dean said they would go ahead with the round one qualifiers, which feature four clubs from the Cook Islands, Tonga, American Samoa and Samoa.
The first match between Tonga’s Lotoha’apai and American Samoa’s Pago Youth will kick off at 2.30pm and match of the day between the local club Tupapa Maraerenga FC and Samoa’s Kiwi FC will start at 5.30pm.
Pago Youth and Lotoha’apai United will be fielding locally-based players only while Kiwi FC and Tupapa Maraerenga are expected to feature some overseas-based players.
In the opening match, Lotoha’apai has the upper hand however Pago Youth will be a side to be reckoned with.
Pago Youth has chosen a young line up to contest for speed and agility that the Tongan team has shown in previous encounters.
The second match of day one between Tupapa Maraerenga FC and Kiwi FC will be a battle of the arch-rivals.
Both teams have sought out the maximum allowed four international players, to reach the main round of OFC Champions League.
Tupapa Maraerenga went down 2-1 against Kiwi FC in their last encounter in 2016 at the CIFA Complex and the side is looking to turn the tables on them. Tupapa coach Delaney Yaqona said the team was ready and that they have prepared well for the tournament.
The morale of the players is high and they are ready to put on a show for the people of the Cook Islands, he said.
Yaqona also mentioned that in this tournament, they are not only playing for the village, but for the country as well.
And therefore, he said it would be great to see football followers come out to support the local team.
Kiwi FC coach Martin Tamasese understands the pressure is on both teams as this is the first time the two teams (Tupapa and Kiwi FC) will face off on the opening day.
“We played the Tupapa side three years ago and I know they are a good team and also prepared well for the tournament,” Tamasese said.
“It’s a big challenge for us to play the host team in our opening match because first match is always tough but ready to play them.
“We know we have a huge task ahead of us as we face Tupapa because they are not only the host but also a very good team this year.”
Supporters are requested to come down to the CIFA Complex in Matavera to support their teams. Entry is $3.
- CIFA Media/RK