Tupapa desperate in defence in the. OFC Champions League 2020 Qualifying Stage last month. The team will take on New Caledonia's AS Magenta in the OFC Champions League tonight. 20013028/ Photo: Shane Wenzlick / www.phototek.nz
Rarotonga’s Tupapa Maraerenga FC arrived in Noumea this week with a small squad of only 14 players for the 2020 OFC Champions League.
The team will take on home club AS Magenta in their opening Group C match at 10pm tonight (Cook Islands time).
The Cook Islanders are fully aware of their challenge ahead and they are the first to admit that they enter the competition huge underdogs.
Despite the enormity of the task facing them, Tupapa coach Dave Milanovic insists his players are here to play and will give their best.
“The boys are excited and already looking forward to the matches against Magenta and the Solomon Warriors, because they want to try and improve on their performances against them from last year,” he said.
“The last tournament really showed us where our level is, but we have been working hard and we want to improve enjoy the experience and bring something to this tournament. In the first match against Magenta we will be aiming to keep to scores down to make sure it’s not a repeat of last years,” added Milanovic.
AS Magenta should have enough class to safely negotiate their first challenge against minnows Tupapa, but coach Alain Moizan is not taking anything for granted.
“The most difficult thing is to win. Every year we start again from zero, last year was one thing, this year is something else,” he said.
“The match against Tupapa is the first match and they’ll still be in good physical shape. Maybe three days later in their second match, and again in their third match they won’t necessary have the rhythm, but first up we’ll need to concentrate and take the match very seriously,” the Magenta coach explained.