Old format to benefit teams

The National,Thursday June 30th, 2016

Oceania’s premier club competition, OFC Champions League return to its original format will benefit the semi-professional clubs which compete in it.
The matches which will be spread across the region and — over a proper season — will see clubs have a chance to earn money from home games as well as promoting their brand and football to home fans.
Unlike the last two Champions League tournaments which were held in one location over a shorter timeframe — the reversion to the tried and tested formula is seen as a step in the right direction for Oceania football.
For the first time, two teams from the competition will progress to stage II, the group stage of the OFC Champions League.
In another first for the competition, stage II will be contested by 16 teams — two each from Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu — which will be drawn into four groups hosted in different venues.  PNG’s Hekari United and Lae City will have another chance to participate.
A round-robin league system will be adopted to determine the top team in each group; the four teams will progress to stage III, or the semi-finals.
A draw will be held involving the four qualified teams to determine their respective opponents for the home-and-away semi-final, with the winners progressing to the fourth and final stage.
The two-match home-and-away final will determine the winner of the 2017 OFC Champions League and the OFC representative at the Fifa Club World Cup 2017.
The OFC Champions League is the confederation’s premier international club competition. The 2017 tournament will be the 15th edition of the event, which offers qualification to the Fifa Club World Cup.
Defending champions Auckland City will be chasing their ninth regional title, in a competition that has largely been dominated by themselves and Waitakere United.
Hekari became the first club outside of New Zealand or Australia to claim the prize with their 2010 victory, while Sydney, Wollongong Wolves and South Melbourne also have their place in the history books.