The OFC Champions League Qualifiers 2018 came to an end with Pago Youth, representing the host country, closing out the tournament in a 5-0 loss to Tupapa Maraerenga FC of Cook Islands.
In the earlier game played on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018 at Pago Park Soccer Stadium, Lupe o le Soaga beat Veitongo FC 6-0 to advance with Tupapa Maraerenga to the second stage of the OFC Champions League.
Tupapa Maraerenga finished top in the qualifiers with nine points, followed by Lupe o le Soaga with six points, Veitongo FC with one point and Pago Youth also with one point. Veitongo finished ahead of Pago Youth because of the goals differential tiebreaker.
“Our biggest weakness was our fitness,” said Pago Youth coach, JR Amisone. “This was a great learning experience for all of our players because we have a lot of young players. A lot of our experienced players have moved off island and it is our young players we have been relying upon all year.
“This is a good experience for them, now with this experience we can build on it for the National League at the end of the year, and of course the next OFC Champions league qualifiers.”
Pago Youth qualified for the 2019 OFC Champions League Qualifiers on account of its winning the 2017 FFAS National League title.
In this last game, Pago Youth had some great chances at scoring against Tupapa Maraerenga, but their shots never quite found the mark as it either missed going into the goal by a yard, or bounced off of the posts during various stages of the game.
They did play more aggressive in this game, playing forward during long stretches of the game instead of sitting and hanging back inside their half of the field.
Their last gasp at scoring was on a through ball to veteran Faimalo ‘Rambo’ Tapui who tapped it ahead of the second to last defender and then tried to shoot it past the goalie for the goal. However, the ball was deflected off of the keeper and went off of the far post.
“I thought I had it after a great pass but unfortunately it was pushed away by the goalie,” Tapui recalled.
The entire game was played in a light drizzle, and it made the game sloppy at times due to puddles of water that killed the speed of the ball.
However, both teams managed to play through it and Pago Youth managed to hold Tupapa Maraerenga to a 2-0 score in the first half. The last three goals in the second half were hard won by the visiting team.