Kapi Natto unsure about champions league format

Normal, Sports

The National, Thursday February 27th, 2014


HEKARI United is confident of doing well at the 2014 Oceania Football Confederation Champions League in April in Fiji.

Franchise owner John Kapi Natto disagrees with the format used but said it would be testing times for all participating teams.

He described Pool C – which includes Magenta (New Caledonia), Tafea (Vanuatu) Ba (Fiji) and Hekari (PNG) – as the cream of island nations at the month-long tournament.

Group A or Pool A based in Lautoka will feature Waitekere United, Samoa Siwi, Pirae of Tahiti and Solomon Island champion – all matches to be played at Churchill Park.

Prince Charles Park in Nadi hosts Group B where three-in-a-row champion, Auckland City, take on Dragon (Tahiti), Amicale (Vanuatu) and Nadi (Fiji). 

There are 12 teams already split into their respective groups to contest the competition group stage from April 7-15.

Each group winner will advance to the home and away semi finals, while the final four is rounded off with the best placed runner-up joining them in the knock-out stages. 

The victorious semi-final teams will then clash in a winner-takes-all final at a pre-determined venue. 

Kapi Natto said their pool can also classified as Group of Death as all four clubs have played in the OFC champions League, formerly O-League final.

“We will take every game as grand final and there is no two ways about it. We want to win two games to advance to next stages of the tournament,” he said.

Hekari United is very positive with its preparation despite facing difficulties preparing on acceptable standard surfaces.

The club has recruited well during off-season with Nicholas Muri (Solomon Islands), Jean  Kaltak (Vanuatu), Tuimasi Manuca (Fiji), Taniela Waqa (Fiji), and hopefully, Brian Kaltak of Vanuatu will join soon as replacement for long-serving Fijian, Pita Bolaitoga.

Kapi Natto said elusive striker Raymond Gunemba, Joachim Waroi, David Muta, Nigel Dabinyaba, Daniel Joe, Koriak Upaiga and Kila Polena will provide the much-needed support for the club during the OFC Champions League challenge.

The club will miss the services of Samuel Kini who has decided to pursue a career with Air Niugini in Mt Hagen, and Wira Wama who is on a soccer scholarship in the United States but there are some capable young who can make step up in class.

Fiji Ba will be without the services of former Hekari players in Alvin Singh and Malakai Tiwa who are playing in Australia while Manuca returned to the club (Hekari) after some disagreement with his Fiji club.