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Tupapa off to OFC Champions League qualifiers

Monday 13 February 2023 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Football, Sports


Tupapa off to OFC Champions League qualifiers
Tupapa Maraerenga players and management at their last training session. CIFA MEDIA/23021305

Following a successful 2022 football campaign in winning the Tower Insurance Premiership in Rarotonga, Tupapa Maraerenga Football Club premier men have booked their spot to feature in the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Champions League qualifiers to be held in Apia, Samoa.

The Cook Islands champions will represent the country between February 18 and 24 as they compete against champion clubs Ilaoa Ma To’omata (American Samoa), Lupe Ole Soaga (Samoa) and Veitongo (Tonga).

The four teams will play off against one another to claim a spot in the main tournament, with the series of matches taking place at the Football Federation’s home ground in Apia. The team finishing first in the qualifying stage will qualify for the centralised tournament.

The opening match will see our home side take on Tonga’s Veitongo on Saturday, February 18, their second match on Tuesday, February 21 against American Samoa’s Ilaoa Ma To’omata, and a final meeting on February 24 against Samoa’s champion club, Lupe Ole Soaga. All three matches will be played at 1pm Samoa time.

Tupapa Maraerenga FC president Grover Harmon, also a key player in the team, together with coach Tuka Tisam, have been preparing the team to be ready for this competition. Although a young side on paper, there are a few experienced individuals on hand to assist with the team’s campaign in Samoa.

“Although this is a young team, we will try our best to qualify for the next stage.”

The team’s biggest challenge will come from Samoan competitor Lupe Ole Soaga, as previous matches against them have been fairly physical. 

“However, we can’t rule out the Tongan side and the side from American Samoa who have some strong players. On the day it will come down to how well we’ve prepared ourselves and how well we play during each match,” Harmon said. 

The team are due to depart this week and will meet up with the rest of the team in Auckland before flying off to Samoa.