The first match of round two sees home side Ba FC face Tafea of Vanuatu. Both teams came out better off on the first match day of the OFC Champions League, with Tafea beating Hekari United 3-1, while Ba won with a more modest yet no less significant scoreline of 2-0 against AS Magenta.
Tafea is top of the table at the moment and the Teouma Academy players have more than proven their worth but their coach Moise Poida is taking no chances.
“This is [Ba’s] home ground. We’re being very careful because they’ve been very good before and I know that it’s not the first time they have been in the OFC Champions League.
“We will play our game so whatever happens we will treat this game against Ba as we treated the game against Hekari,” he says.
If goalscorers Don Mansale, Joses Nawo, and Dalong Damalip find the net as confidently as they did against Hekari, Poida will have as much reason to be as ecstatic as he was on Monday.
After a tough win which saw many of their goal-scoring opportunities not converted, Ba president Rishi Kumar noted the importance of a victory today in an interview with Fiji FA.
“Tafea have also won their first game as Ba did and one can say that this will be the clash of the pool. There is still a long way to go,” he says.
The second match of day four is a must-win situation for Hekari and Magenta. With both teams sitting last in Group C on zero points, Hekari’s Jerry Allen and Magenta’s Alain Moizan need wins today to keep their semi-final chances alive, something that both coaches are highly aware of.
Hekari find themselves without striker Tuimasi Manuca, who picked up a straight red in the 77th minute of the match against Ba. That leaves Allen with the possible options of Kema Jack, Nigel Dabinyaba or Raymond Gunemba to replace him in the starting line-up.
Magenta also have one man out in Ludovic Wakanumune who booked himself two yellow cards on Monday.
“There will be some changes,” Moizan says of the squad that will face Hekari, ”we can’t hope for a lot in this competition if we can’t create a greater sense of wanting, more simplicity and efficiency. We had some really good opportunities to score but couldn’t.”
Moizan’s counterpart shares his sentiment, and it is clear the do-or-die fixture in Govind Park weighs heavily on Allen’s mind.
“It’s going to be really tough and hard, especially when we come to play Ba at their home ground [in round three],” he says, “we need to step up and do our very best in order to get a result and stay in the competition.”
Tafea and Ba top the Group C table with three points apiece, with Tafea at the number one due to greater goal differential. Hekari and Magenta have zero points, with Hekari narrowly in front with a lone goal on their side from Monday.