Tonga football is expected to join the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Champions League Qualifiers from January 26 to February 1 at the CIFA complex in Matavera, Cook Islands.
It will join the top clubs from American Samoa: Pago Youth FC, Samoa – Kiwi FC, who will travel to the Cook Islands to play the champion club Tupapa Mararenga FC, Cook Island news has reported.
Tupapa Maraerenga qualified for the prestigious tournament by winning the Vans Premiership. The premiership is the Round Cup competition that was played from August 17 through to November 24 last year. In this competition, local clubs play each other three times, and the team that finishes first on the competition table is declared the winner.
CIFA competition and club licensing manager Pauline Dean said the OFC Champions League would be held over three match days – January 26, January 29 and February 1.
Each day would feature two matches, she added.
“The first match kicks off at 2.30pm with the second match at 5.30pm and Tupapa Maraerenga FC has been scheduled to kick-off at 5.30pm on all three match days so our supporters will have time from work to attend the games,” Dean said.
Tupapa Maraerenga FC will play Samoa’s champion club Kiwi FC in their opening match followed by Tonga’s champion Lotoha’apai. In their last match, the side will take on American Samoa’s Pago Youth FC.
Dean said the home side had been training non-stop throughout the festive season and no doubt would be out to finish on top.
“I have not received any news on the arrivals of the teams, however from past experience teams usually arrive two to three days before the kick-off of the first match,” she said.
Meanwhile CIFA officials have been preparing the pitches, the playing and training pitches, as well as the other facilities at the CIFA complex.
“We are looking forward to hosting this tournament and would like to wish all teams the best of luck. Of course, we would like all our local supporters to come out to the CIFA complex to cheer and support the local teams and I am pretty sure the Tonga and Samoa families living on Rarotonga will be out to cheer on our visiting teams,” Dean said.
“As hosts we would love to have the support of our friends, families and fans to come out and support this tournament and our local team.”
The winner of the qualifiers will play in the OFC Champions League which will feature the top clubs from around the region, including New Zealand.