Weekend Guide 27.5.2016 - Oceania Special - Goodbye 2015/16!

Yes, it's the end of May, and it means that the Weekend Guide will take his break as the season is done. But don't worry, we would not leave you like this in empty hands - a special guide dedicated to the opening games of the first international tournament this summer – the OFC Nations Cup. All the matches will take place at Sir Johan Guise Stadium in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

(All the hours are in CET local time)

Game 1

What? New Zealand – Fiji

When? Saturday, 0800

Why? New Zealand, the dominant national team in Oceania since Australia left to the AFC, try to retain the title after their failure in the previous tournament. Fiji is one of the emerging powers in the continent, after qualifying to the 2015 U-20 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic tournament.

Key Players: In New Zealand squad you can find their hot prospect for the future, Bill Tuiloma, Marseille’s 21 years old midfielder who spent last season on loan to Strasbourg. Iosefo Verevou is just 20 years old but has enough international experience with two goals in the U-20 World Cup.

Pacific Touch:2015 OFC Champions League, the defender of Samoan champions, Lupe ole Soaga can't handle the Fijian runner-ups Ba and their striker Saula Waqa.

Game 2

What? Vanuatu – Solomon Islands

When? Saturday, 1100

Why? In 2004 OFC Nations Cup, Solomon Islands gained a surprising draw against Australia in the final game, which led them to the 2nd place ahead of New Zealand. Vanuatu's football is making a great progress, as their leading team Amicale qualified to the Champions League final twice in last few years. There is certainly a hope that the national team will do the same.

Key Players: Jean Kaltack scored 9 goals in 8 caps as Vanuatu international player, but he well remembered due to his enormous performance with 16 goals while winning 46:0 against Micronesia in the Pacific Games last year. Henry Fa'arodo playing for Solomon Islands since 2002 and he can't be stopped as he’s about to break the caps record for.

Pacific Touch: 2016 OFC Futsal Championship, in the last match against Fiji, the Solomon Islands showed to everyone why they are the Oceania champions 5 times by now.

Game 3

What? Papua New Guinea – New Caledonia

When? Sunday, 0800

Why? The host nation will try to show their skills and win an OFC Nations Cup match for the first time since 1980, under the guidance of the Danish manager Flemming Serritslev. New Caledonia still has memories from their sensational win against New Zealand in the last tournament semifinals.

Key Players: 21 years old Alwin Komolong played for all the youth level teams and is ready for his senior debut cap. He is the only player in his team playing abroad, as he plays for Northern Kentucky University team. As a French Oversea Department, New Caledonia have the midfielder César Zeoula, who plays since 2011 in Stade Lavallois of the French Ligue 2.

Pacific Touch: 2013 OFC U-17 Championship, it's not so common to see a Papua New Guinea victory, but Nicky Benjamin made his team dream a bit before conceding the equalizer.

Game 4

What? Tahiti – Samoa

When? Saturday, 1100

Why? Four years ago, Tahiti won a historical title, after defeating New Caledonia 1:0. Now they wish to have another sensational tournament. Samoa qualified through the first round, clinching their spot by goal difference over American Samoa and Cook Islands.

Key Players: The Tahitian veteran striker, Steevy Chong Hue, is still here and wants to score 4 goals in this tournament in order to become the national team all-time top scorer. Andrew Mobberly was the leading name in the first round for Samoa, as he also plays for the New Zealand top-tier side, Southern United.

Pacific Touch: 2015 OFC U-20 Women's Championship, Vanuatu leads 3:2 against Samoa, and then, in the 96th minute, Matalena Daniels took this free kick.


Thumbnail photo by Oceania Football Confederation (OFC)

Weekend Guide 21.5.2016

Here we go with another Weekend Guide. We’re off for the semifinals in Mexico, a decisive match in Paraguay and the newly reborn league in Indonesia. 

(All the hours are in CET local time)

Amateur (Like this defender)

What? Monterrey – América (Liga MX)

When? Sunday, 0330

Where?  Estadio BBVA Bancomer, Monterrey

Why? Even though Monterrey finished 1st at the end of the regular season, they feel the pressure of an elimination. They lost to the 4th ranked América 0:1 in the first leg of the semifinals, and now need to win in order to remain in the title picture.

Key Players: Both teams have tremendous strikers who’ll have chance to score more. Rogelio Funes Mori of Monterrey (19 goals) and Oribe Peralta of América (17 goals) are the top scorers of their teams.

Who's the Boss: In the other semifinal, it’s Pachuca vs León. The interesting fact is that both have the same owners – two companies named Grupo Pachuca and Grupo Carso.

Professional (like that kick)

What? Libertad – Guaraní (Paraguayan Primera División)

When? Sunday, 0000

Where? Estadio Dr. Nicolás Léoz, Asunción

Why? Club Libertad are only one draw away from winning the title. Libertad are in 1st place, 3 points more than the reigning champions, Olimpia. Guaraní are in the 4th place and don't want any team celebrates against them. By the way, if Libertad will lose and Olimpia will win, the tie breaker will be a playoff match for the title.

Key Players: Every team needs veteran players, so we have two 36 years old players as the players to watch. In Libertad it’s Sergio Aquino, who plays for the club since 2006 and won 8 Paraguayan titles with the team. Julio César Cáceres of Guaraní is remembered from his periods in River Plate and Boca Juniors, as well his international career with Paraguay national team.

Coincidence: 61 international caps for Paraguay and being part of the squad in 2002 World Cup. You can say it about Julio César Cáceres, but you can say it also about his manager in Guaraní, Francisco Arce.

World Class (like this goal)

What? Perseru Serui – Persija Jakarta (Indonesia Super League)

When? Sunday, 0900

Where? Marora Stadium, Serui

Why? Political intervention prevented any Indonesian football last year, but now football is coming back to the country, with a great opening for the season. Persipura Jayapura, one of the biggest teams in Indonesia, tied for the 2nd place with 7 out of 9 points. They will travel to Perseru Serui, who’s ranked in the 8th place with 5 points.

Key Players: Amadou Gakou came as an anonymous striker from Mali, but until now he is on fire for Perseru Serui attack. Persija have their faith with Andritany Ardhiyasa, a 24 years old goalkeeper who plays for the team since 2010.

And nicknames for all: Perseru and Persija, alongside with names like Persipura or Persib have no meaning. It's actually a way to nickname the word Persatuan, which means unity or association in Indoensian.

Weekend Guide 12.5.2016

As usual, The Weekend Guide have some great games for you this issue. Great runs who might end in the Tunisian title race, last matchday in Iran with three teams and one title, and a short but musical visit in Korea.

(All the hours are in CET local time)

Amateur (Like this miss)

What? Espérance de Tunis – Étoile du Sahel (Tunisian Ligue Professionnelle 1)

When? Sunday, 1630

Where? Stade Olympique de Radès, Tunis

Why? With amazing runs of these two teams, only one can be the Tunisian champion. Étoile du Sahel are leading the table with 66 points and a single defeat in the whole season, while Espérance de Tunis are behind them with 64 points.

Key Players: In both of the teams’ rosters there are youngsters that had a great season with 22 appearances and 8 goals each. Espérance's Saad Bguir also scored his first international goal last November in his debut. Étoile's Alaya Brigui is a homegrown player who already won 3 cups with his club and now close to first championship.

Proud Tunisian, Proud Arab: Even though their names are in French, both of the teams has official names also in Arabic – Taraji for Espérance (Hope) and Nejmeh for Étoile (Star).

Professional (like that kick)

What?Iranian Persian Gulf League Pro final matchday, Esteghlal Khuzestan – Zob Ahan; Persepolis – Rah Ahan; Saba Qom - Esteghlal

When? Friday, 1530

Where? Ghadir Stadium, Ahvaz;Azadi Stadium, Tehran; Yadegar-e Emam Stadium, Qom

Why? We have special final matchday in Iran, with three team that each have chance to win the title. Esteghlal Khuzestan are on the way to their first title ever with 54 points. The two mega clubs of Iran didn't lose their hopes, as Persepolis is tied for the 1st place with 54 points, and Esteghlal are 3rd with 51.

Key Players: Three Iranian players are the dominant figures in those teams. Khuzestan's Hassan Beyt Saeed is 26 years old who is making a great debut season in the top tier with 9 goals. Persepolis' Mehdi Taremi is one of the lethal scorers in the league with 16 goals. Esteghlal will try to keep a clean sheet with Mehdi Rahmati, who capped 77 times as Iran national team goalkeeper.

The Independence: Esteghlal, which means independence in Persian, is a common name for Iranian clubs. Even Esteghlal Khuzestan local rivals named with the same name - Esteghlal Ahvaz.

World Class (like this goal)

What? Seongnam FC – FC Seoul (Korean K-League Classic)

When? Saturday, 0800

Where? Tancheon Stadium, Seongnam

Why? The Korean league is still warming up, but it's a chance to take a look one two of the league’s strong teams currently. Seongnam FC has 7 championships, more than any other K-League team, FC Seoul have 5 title. Currently, FC Seoul are leading the table with 19 points, Seongnam FC are 1 point behind in the 3rd place.

Key Players: It's not so common to find a young goalkeeper, but Seongnam have faith in Kim Dong Jun, a 21 years old, as the team conceded only 8 goals, less than any other team in the league. FC Seoul have Adriano, the top goal scorer in the K-League with 6 goals.

Playing with the Band: Adriano's goal celebration gained him the nickname "Adriano Michael Jackson". It's even got better when he played at Atlético Goianiense alongside with player nicknamed "John Lennon".