A clash between match day one victors AS Dragon and Erakor Golden Star headlines the second day of Group B action in Papeete, Tahiti on Wednesday (local time) with each side determined to edge closer to the OFC Champions League quarterfinals.
Buoyed by their 2-0 win over Solomon Warriors on Sunday, Erakor Golden Star’s coach Obed Jimmy said the Vanuatu club were riding a wave of confidence as they look to back up against the Tahitian champions.
“I told our players before the first game that the first match would push us to a new level,” Jimmy said.
“Our aim is to get to the quarterfinals and I know I can count on my players including those who were on the bench if I decide to use them. I don’t see that there’s anything to stop us reaching our target.”
Despite Dragon boasting a number of players with experience in the French professional system, including Ligue 1 veterans Marama Vahirua and Reynald Lemaitre, Jimmy said his players were far from daunted by the challenge.
“All the players they feel hungry to play against these players and to test them. With the level of Dragon’s play we don’t see anything to fear when we play them.”
Host club AS Dragon were the big winners on day one, posting a 4-0 win in a Francophone derby but struggled to break down 10-man Lossi side in the first half and almost trailed at the break.
Coach Timiona Asen put the slow start down to a case of stage fright.
“You have to take into consideration the fact that for most of the players on the pitch it was their very first match in the OFC Champions League, And this added to the fact they were playing in front of a big crowd made them feel a bit lost.
“At half time I readjusted the tactics because I noticed that Lossi were always attacking even though they were playing at 10. So I played with just one defensive midfield and the other midfielders supporting him when needed.”
Dragon staff are monitoring an injury to Marama Vahirua, who limped off just before halftime on Sunday, but Asen said if they have to replace the veteran striker the loss would be lessened by the strengths of a younger player in a tweaked system.
“Everybody’s focusing on Marama because he’s a great player, that’s normal. But you have to keep in mind that he’s not twenty anymore.
“But that’s ok because I have young players who are ready to come in but of course Marama’s role is very important in the team and in the way it plays. If he’s not fit to play I will change the system and put a player who will press the opponents constantly.”
Erakor Golden Star [VAN] vs. AS Dragon [TAH]
Wednesday 14 February
Kick-off: 18h00 (local)
(15h00 NCL/SOL/VAN Thursday 15 Feb)
Referee: Nick WALDRON (NZL)
Assistant Referee 1: Isaac TREVIS (NZL)
Assistant Referee 2: Mark RULE (NZL)
Fourth Official: Peter LINNEY (NZL)
Erakor Golden Star
Vital Statistics: Sunday’s victory over Solomon Warriors was the first time in four Champions League matches that Erakor has kept a cleansheet. Barry Mansale’s superb free-kick was the first goal Erakor scored by someone other than Tony Kaltack.
The Players: Goalkeeper Gershom Kalson was in superb form between the sticks in Erakor’s opening win, with his speed off the line particularly effective in denying a number of Warriors chances in the first half.
Coach Quote: “We watched Dragon’s game and we’ve seen how we can play against them on Wednesday. We’ve got ideas on what we need to do.”
Team List: 1. Chikau MANSALE (GK), 2. Jack WANEMUT, 3. Jesse KALOPONG, 4. Gordshem DONA, 5. Selwyn VATU, 6. Robert TOUKOUNE, 7. Kaltfer KALTACK, 8. Ronaldo WILKINS, 9. Tony KALTACK, 10. Jacky RUBEN (c), 11. Nemani ROQARA, 12. Bernard DANIEL, 13. Godine TENENE, 15. Elkington MOLIVAKARUA, 16. Joseph IARUEL, 18. Barry MANSALE, 20. Serge DANIEL (GK), 22. Gerhsom KALSONG.
Coach: Obed JIMMY (VAN)
Vital Statistics: Both of Dragon’s two previous OFC Champions League campaigns have seen them finish third in their group behind the eventual finalists. Waitakere and Auckland City in 2012-13 and Amicale and Auckland City in 2013-14).
The Players: Sullivan Duee added plenty of energy in Dragon’s midfield, especially in a much improved team performance in the second half. The diminutive defensive midfielder is currently on leave from his job as a soldier in the French military to take part in the group stage of the OFC Champions League.
Coach Quote: “Winning the first match was our goal so that we would have the opportunity to qualify straight after the second one. Winning and get the qualification is very important but I want to win ‘playing our game’ so that it will bring confidence to the team.”
Team List: 1. Gilbert MERIEL (GK), 2. Victor SNOW, 3. Teata HAUATA, 5. Gabriel VAKOUME, 6. Hennel TEHAAMOANA, 7. Salomon TEVEPAUHU, 9. Samuel HNANYINE, 10. Marama VAHIRUA, 11. Rainui TZE-YU, 12. Logan LEDUC, 15. Sullivan DUEE, 16. Tamatoa TETAUIRA (c), 18. Louis PETITGAS, 21. Christophe GENDRON, 22. Clyde TINIAU, 23. Reynald LEMAITRE, 24. Teinaore SEINO, 30. Benjamin TARDIVEL (GK).
Coach: Timiona ASEN (TAH)