Warriors last encounter - Solomon Star News

Warriors last encounter

15 April 2014

It's the last day of the group stage today and Group A rounds out the action at Churchill Park in Lautoka as AS Pirae and Waitakere United seek semi-final glory.

Kiwi and Solomon Warriors are out of playoff contention after consecutive losses in the first two rounds of matches.

The Samoans had an admirable run as underdogs but were outdone by a strong performance by Pirae in their last outing.

The passing of Samoa's federation president, Toetu Petana, last Thursday has impacted the team as well.

“It’s really hard for us, because back home in Samoa, if a high chief passes away we don’t have to play,” says coach Martin Tamasese.

“We will have a rest and recover and then come back strong for our third game.”

Their opponents today, Solomon Warriors, almost created an upset against Waitakere after taking the lead on the stroke of half-time, when Micah Lea'alafa paired up with James Naka to beat Waitakere keeper and 2013 Golden Glove Danny Robinson.

It was a frustrating match for the two teams who were unable to finish their chances and it wasn't until the 86th minute that Joel Stevens put in a cross that beat Warriors keeper Silas Seda, who punched it into the back of his own net.

Despite the draw and subsequent end to Warriors' OFC Champions League tournament, coach Moses Toata was still pleased with his team's performance.

“I was very impressed by the way the boys played against Waitakere and am now very much looking forward to the game against Kiwi.

“We are definitely looking forward to a win,” he says.

Next up and the last of the group stage matches sees Waitakere United play AS Pirae, where the New Zealanders need a win to secure a spot in the semi-finals, after a last gasp own goal kept their dreams alive in a 1-1 draw against Warriors.

Waitakere co-coach Paul Temple remains pragmatic about his team's chances against the Tahitians. “We’ll just approach it the same way we were going to approach it,” he says, reacting to the 8-0 scoreline.

“Kiwi obviously didn’t put in the effort that they did in the first game and AS Pirae have got some good players.

“But [we are probably] better off having a game as tough as we did [against Warriors], whereas [Pirae] had a pretty easy afternoon so hopefully we can come out fighting and get the result that we want,” Temple says.

Naea Bennett was the hero for AS Pirae on Saturday, scoring four out of AS Pirae's eight goals against Kiwi. Raimana Li Fung Kuee added to the tally with a brace while captain Marama Vahirua and Augustin Dallera scored one each.

AS Pirae coach Samuel Garcia is optimistic about his team's chances of advancing given their stellar form so far but knows that Waitakere United, with two titles under their belt and a wealth of experience in the OFC Champions League, is not to be underestimated.

“These are players with experience,” he says of Waitakere United's squad. “We need to be serious, stick to the path we’re on now and that requires the players and the staff to concentrate on our objectives.

“Today we feel a little bit reassured because we put in some goals, but Tuesday will be a completely different match,” he says.

A win for Waitakere United would secure their place in the semi-final, while a loss or draw for the New Zealanders will send AS Pirae through to the next round, with Waitakere losing out to Amicale or Auckland City FC for the best runner-up slot, who played yesterday at 4pm.

Warriors and Kiwi are playing the tournament out and cannot advance.