MARIST FC kept their quarter-finals hopes alive after another share of the spoils with AS Magenta on Match day two of the OFC Champions League Group D in Honiara on Tuesday.
A looping Michael Boso header in the opening five minutes put the home side in front.
AS Magenta equalised six minutes later as both teams held on for a 1-1 draw heading into the final Match day on Friday.
Marist coach Jerry Allen cited the importance of the result as they are still undefeated in the group.
“I think chance is there as the race is still on and we need to win the final game to qualify,” he said.
Allen stressed they went into the game determined to get maximum points.
“We aimed to get a win today (yesterday) but I think we started well and then conceded a goal from a corner kick.
“We had to fight extra hard after the red card as we went for the second option and we held them for draw,” he added.
Abraham Iniga received his marching orders in the second half for a second yellow card.
Thus, the Marist tactician is confident another player will take up Iniga’s position against Lupe Ole Soaga.
“We have players to fill in the gap. I think Iniga is just unlucky because the decision was a bit harsh against us. But that’s football we need to accept it and move on,” he stressed.
It was obvious the home side does not have a clinical finisher against both Team Wellington and AS Magenta.
Mathias Iani continued his frustration in front of goal and Allen believes it’s down to lack experience playing in the OFC Champions League.
“Again we need to improve our finishing because we have an inexperience player especially young Matthias because he is new to playing in the O-League and Tome as well.
“Hopefully they will step up in the last game to do what we all want,” Allen explained.
AS Magenta coach Alain Moizan also rued his team’s missed chances in front of goal.
“We have the impression that we’ve lost two points. In the ensemble it was a close match and probably with better control from us we could have won.
“It’s football, you need to be effectual in front of the goal and once again today we weren’t,” he said.
Both coaches a keen to win their final matches on which will go down to the wire.
AS Magenta need maximum points against Team Wellington to qualify for the quarter-finals.
“We’ll our game as per usual, high pressing. They’re a team this year, which from what I’ve seen, is a little weaker than last year.
“We’ll do everything to win this match. If we win we’ll qualify and finish top of the group so we’ll do our best to recover over the next two days, then we’ll see on Friday,” Moizan stated.
Like AS, Marist just need to win against Lupe Ole Soaga and hope the first game’s result on Friday goes their way.
“I think we need to go into the last game with a strong mentality. We need to get the three points.
“We need to put more pressure on the Samoans because we have to win,” Allen insisted.
As it stands, it’s a three horse race in Group D for the two available quarter-finals spot.
New Zealand champions Team Wellington thrashed Lupe Ole Soaga 7-1 in the day’s earlier kick-off.
Team Wellington takes on AS Magenta at 1pm and Marist roundup Group D actions against Lupe Ole Soaga at 4pm on Friday.
By SIMON ABANA