Puaikura eyes historic finish

Thursday February 02, 2017 Written by Published in Soccer

The history-making Puaikura side is keen to finish their 2017 OFC Champions League Qualifier on a high today at Loto-Tonga Soka Centre in Nuku’alofa, Tonga.

 

After winning their opening two matches against Samoa’s Lupe Ole Soaga and host Veitongo FC, the Round Cup Championship holders became the first Rarotonga club to qualify to the next round of the competition.

Today, the side is keen to set another record when it takes on Utulei Youth, who are yet to register a point in the qualifiers.

The local champions will be hoping to become the first Rarotonga club to finish the championship unbeaten.

Puaikura will miss the services of two of their starters with Anthony Hobbs suspended after receiving a red card and midfielder Paul Rhodes on his way back to Auckland.

But coach Matt Calcott is confident in the depth of his side and believes his remaining players will step up to fill the positions.

“It’s great going into that last game knowing that we have already qualified. The only thing that needs to be determined now is first or second,” the former Wellington and Cook Islands U20 coach told OFC Media.

“It was a couple of good performances for the first two games and I’m glad to be going into Friday with a little bit of the pressure taken off.”

Rarotonga-based Dwayne Tiputoa is one of the players to watch out for Puaikura in today’s clash.

The 19-year-old forward dominated in Cook Islands domestic competitions in 2016 and scored a goal for Puaikura in their last appearance at the OFC Champions League Qualifier when he was just 16.

“The aim when we came here was to win it and that hasn’t changed. A good performance is key. It got a little bit scratchy there in our second game so we want to finish on a positive note,” Calcott said.

Puaikura will take on American Samoa’s Utulei Youth at 1pm (local time).

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