Tahitians off to a flying start in Group B at OFC Men’s Champions League

Tahiti’s AS Pirae have comfortably beaten Samoa’s Vaivase-tai in their OFC Men’s Champions League opener at Stade Pater in Papeete.

Pirae won 6-0 to lay down a marker for Group B, with the group’s other teams, Ifira Black Bird and AS Magenta, not due to meet till next week because of a re-arranged schedule forced by airline problems.

Main photo: AS Pirae’s Sandro Tau … scored his side’s opening goal. Photo credit: OFC / Phototek.

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Coach Vatea Terai’s side were impressive in last year’s competition, losing in the semi-finals in extra time to Suva and their attempts to go a stage further this year got off to the perfect start.

However, it was the Samoan side who almost took the lead. A quick counter-attack in the 5th minute led to Alman Kwan smartly finishing at the back post, only to be denied by the offside flag.

A few minutes after surviving that early scare, AS Pirae took the lead.

An excellent run down the line by Haumau Tanetoa led to his cross being flicked on by Heirauarii Salem and Sandro Tau was on hand to tap in from a yard out.

The home side dominated for large spells of the opening period, with Vaivase-tai restricted to counter-attacks but their forwards were becoming increasingly isolated.

They managed to hold out the hosts to just before half-time, but a lapse in concentration allowed Patrick Tepa to head home from close range, unmarked at the back post.

AS Pirae … have laid down a marker for Group B. Photo credit: OFC / Phototek.

Any hopes of a Vaivase-tai comeback were effectively extinguished within two minutes of the restart. The dangerous Ariiura Labaste found time and space in the penalty area, and his low shot squirmed under the body of goalkeeper Pele Fatu.

Salem went within inches of getting on the scoresheet on the hour mark, cutting across the edge of the box and smashing an effort that fizzed just over the bar.

Six minutes later a spectacular goal did arrive. The excellent Désiré Ngiamba – a first-half substitute – picked up possession around 30 metres out before smashing his effort in off the underside of the crossbar to make it four.

A fifth followed soon after. Windsor Tevita-Tanielu tripped Tau in the area leaving the referee with little option but to point to the spot. Labaste took responsibility and duly converted to seal his brace.

Salem almost joined Labasate with a second goal but his curled effort narrowly flew over the crossbar. Labaste became provider moments later, laying the ball off for Yohann Tihoni, who sent his low effort into the bottom corner.

With Ifira Black Bird and AS Magenta’s fixture postponed until later next week, victory has given AS Pirae a march on their group opponents as they seek another semi-final place.


Game played on Monday May 13, 2024

AS Pirae 6 (Sandro Tau 8′, Patrick Tepa 41′, Ariiura Labaste 47′, 73′ pen, Désiré Ngiamba 67′, Yohann Tihoni 83′)
Vaivase-tai 0

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Games to be played on Wednesday May 15, 2024

Auckland City v Hekari United
Papeete, Tahiti, 10am (NZT)

Solomon Warriors v Rewa
Papeete, Tahiti, 1pm (NZT)

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