Tuesday 30 January 2018, 05:58

Oceania field takes shape

Cook Islands’ Tupapa Maraerenga and Samoa’s Lupe Ole Soaga claimed the final slots in the OFC Champions League 2018 group stage after topping the preliminary section over the weekend.

The pair outlasted Tonga’s Veitongo and host club Pago Youth of American Samoa to continue their interest in the competition.

While Samoa have traditionally held the ascendency among the Polynesian quartet at national team level, it was the Cook Islanders who topped the standings with a perfect record thanks to a 1-0 opening-day victory over Lupe Ole Soaga.

The Samoans have previous figured in the competition's final stages, but it will be a first appearance at this level for 17 years for the Cook Islands champions.

Tupapa will have the honour of opening the group stage when they take on Papua New Guinea’s Lae City Dwellers in the Vanuatu-hosted Group A on 10 February.

The Samoans will travel to Solomon Islands later in the month where matches against 2017 runners-up Team Wellington, AS Magenta and Marist await.

The two-legged final will take place in mid-May with the winner to represent Oceania at the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup.