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 29.1.2016

The new Weekend Guide is here, and this week we will be in the Asian race for the last Olympic qualifying spot, the match of the season in Palestine and the Champions League of Oceania. Yallah!

(All the hours are in CET local time)

Amateur (Like this guy)

What? Qatar – Iraq (AFC U-23 Championship)

When? Friday, 1545

Where? Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, Doha

Why? After Japan and South Korea qualified to the Olympic Games, now it's the time to check which team will win the third Asian berth. Qatar played twice at the Olympic tournament, the last one was in Barcelona 1992. Iraq played four times at the Olympic tournament, while their last appearance in Athens 2004 ended with the fourth place.

Key Players: Don't miss the Qatari Ahmed Alaa, the player of Al Rayyan and the leading scorer of the tournament with 5 goals. The Iraqi Mohannad Abdul-Raheem was Asia young player of the year in 2012 and the U-19 championship MVP in the same year, definitely one of the future stars of the Iraqi football.

The Repeat: As we said before, the final of the tournament will be Japan and South Korea. Four years ago they met in the bronze medal match of the Olympic Games. What an Asian footy feast it was!

Professional (like this goal)

What? Shabab Al-Khadr – Shabab Al-Khaleel (West Bank Premier League)

When? Saturday, 1600

Where? Al-Khadr Stadium, Al-Khadr

Why? The match of the season in the Palestinian league will be the main course this weekend. Both of the teams has their own dreams on the title, as after half season Shabab Al-Khaleel lead with 25 points and Shabab Al-Khadr are in the 2nd place with 22 points.

Key Players: Sameh Maraaba of Shabab Al-Khadr was in the Israeli prison, as he was suspected to be involved in terror activity. Now he is one of the league’s best scorers with 6 goals. Shabab Al-Khaleel has the league top scorer, Ahmed Abu Nahyeh, who also shined in the national team with 4 international goals in 3 caps.

Patriotic Feeling: Mahran Abu Raya signed two weeks ago in Al-Khadr. He played for years in Bnei Sakhnin and one of his great goals was against their archrivals, Beitar Jerusalem.

World Class (like these goals)

What? Kiwi – Veitongo (OFC Champions League)

When? Sunday, 0130

Where? CIFA Academy Field, Matavera

Why? Four champions of Oceania minor leagues compete for one spot in the OFC Champions League group stage. The Samoan champions Kiwi need a draw to clinch the spot at the next round. Veitongo from Tonga lost their first two matches and they hope to finish the tournament with a decent result.

Key Players: Kiwi will thank their New Zealand forward, Thomas Mosquera, who scored 4 goals in this campaign. Take a look on Veitongo's Anthony Likiliki, who made debut for his national team last year, when he was only 15 years old.

Once in a Lifetime: Since Australia left the OFC, New Zealand was dominating the Champions League. Only once New Zealand team failed to win the title – In 2010, Waitakere United lost the final against Hekari United from Papua New Guinea.