National side through to quarters
By CARLOS ARUAFU
MARIST FC join Team Wellington to secure a spot each for the quarter finals of the OFC Champions League 2018.
This follows the results of the final two group D matches at the Lawson Tama Stadium yesterday.
Marist beat Lupe Ole Saoga 3-1 while Team Wellington cruised past AS Magenta 5-1 in group D’s final matches.
Despite going up against the group’s underdogs, Marist have to fight hard until the second half of the match to come out with the winning goals.
Marist’s opening goal from Mathias Iani came just before the end of the first half.
Despite trailing by a goal Lupe continued to build pressure on Marist in the opening minutes of the second half.
Their efforts paid off when they were awarded a spot kick following a handball by captain Henry Fa’arodo Junior.
Lapalapa Toni made no mistake as he sent the ball past Anthony Talo for the equalizer.
Marist hit back 10 minutes later, another goal by Iani to regain the lead.
This was shortly followed by a superb free kick outside the box which Atkin Kaua made it difficult for Lupe’s custodian to make the save by sending it to the far post.
“I am really happy that we made it through to the quarter finals especially with the pressure from the home fan which was not easy,” Marist coach Jerry Allen told local media after their match yesterday.
“We came on the pitch with one aim and that is to win,” he added.
“The players were more determined for the three points and they did get it.
“We look forward for the second stage.
“The aim now is work really hard for the next stage
“We want to thank the Marist family and fans for supporting us.”
Despite ending their group campaign with no wins, Lupe coach Paul Ualisi was proud of the final fight they put up against Marist.
“First of all, congratulations to Marist for making the second level. It was a really good game,” Ualisi said.
“I was really proud of my boys today, especially the first half. The countered, they went 1v1, but we just weren’t able to get through,” he added.
“It’s really hard for the supporters in Samoa. It’s not really easy to come here and go back with nothing, so that’s why the boys stepped up.
“We’re not here to make up the numbers, we’re here to compete and next time we’ll come back and fight again,” he told OFC media.
The day’s opening match saw Team Wellington cruised past AS Magenta to finish top of group D.
It was a tough match which kicked off on a high note in yesterday’s afternoon heat.
AS Magenta made an impressive start breaking the deadlock with the opening goal by Richard Sele 10 minutes from kick off.
Team Wellington hit back with the equalizer just after the half hour mark by Ross Allen.
Wellington extended the lead later in the second half with another four goals to secure the top spot of group D.
Despite the defeat, Magenta’s hopes were alive that anything can happen between Marist and Lupe.
However the home side was in search for a win having ended their two previous matches with a 1-1 draw in both and only a win can get them through to the next stage.
The final day of Group Stage action will be played at Trusts Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand today.