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A team coming from an overseas territory is never favourite to win when they are playing at Coupe de France – especially when they are playing in the mainland, but surely the fantastic season Hienghène had so far put the expectations in the New Caledonian side higher. The third time Hienghène Sport plays in the 7th round of Coupe de France, unfortunately, did not have a different result than their past two appearances in the competition. Playing in Strasbourg against AS Pierrots Vauban, the current OFC Champions League title holders could find an equalizer in the second half but not enough to hold the home side pressure and ended up losing by a 3-1 margin.
Hienghène played all their matches in Coupe de France history in France, losing these matches by one goal difference in 2014 (2-1 against AS Poissy) and 2016 (3-2 against RC Epernay), being this in 2019 the first time they lose by more than one goal in the scoreline.
The New Caledonian opponents in the other years they represented their country in Coupe de France were from the National 2 – the 4th tier of football in France – and in 2019 they would be facing a team that is currently at National 3, the 5th tier, theorically a team with less quality than their previous opponents – adding this fact to the recent success of Hyehen winning three titles in the present season it was sure their chances to make an upset were higher than in the previous editions they took part.
Hienghène was the best side in the early minutes – a powerful shot by Jefferson Dahité was saved by the AS Pierrots Vauban goalkeeper to deny an early lead for the Oceanians. The club continued to have possesion being creative through the efforts of Miguel Kayara and Bertrand Kaï.
The home side also had some clear opportunities to score but were wasted – Rocky Nyikeine was there to save Hienghène in certain chances Pierrots Vauban had in the first half. Despite the efforts of Hienghène, in the 38th minute a pressure in the offensive half of the pitch by the New Caledonians did not work, leaving a lot of space for the speedster David Oliveira – he was in one-on-one situation with Nyikeine, he rounded the keeper and scored the first goal of the encounter to put his side upfront.
The first half ended with the home side in advantage. Early in the second half Pierrots Vauban number 9 Jeremy Cicutta had a clear opportunity to score their second goal but it was wasted. Hienghène managed to pressure the opposition defense and could find a much celebrated equalizer when Joseph Athalé headed a corner coming from Bertrand Kaï. He flicked the ball over the goalkeeper scoring the Hienghène goal in the clash that would be the unique they had scored in the game.
After scoring their goal Hienghène got a morale boost and had some shooting opportunities with Jefferson Dahité. The coach Felix Tagawa introduced one of their most celebrated players in the second half: Roy Kayara. He entered in the spot of the number 10 Miguel Kayara.
Roy Kayara did not have much impact in the game, he had free-kick shot opportunity but it was deflected by the opposition defense. Hienghène suddenly seemed unorganized in the pitch, allowing lots of space in the midfield and AS Pierrots Vauban start to create a sequence of goal scoring opportunites. Emile Bearuné saved the team in some opposition chances, another times Rocky Nyikeine and when they were not there, the luch was in favour of Hienghène to help the team to avoid suffering the second goal.
It was clear that team from the French 5th tier somewhen would find their goal; Karim Bellahcéne was unmarked inside the box at the 84th minute and just tapped in to the goal after a very good play by Jeremy Cicutta. Hienghène introduced the forward Antoine Roine just after the goal, looking despair to find an equalizer, but six minutes later it was Samuel Kekambus that took a rebound of Rocky Nyikeine after a long-range shot to score the third and final goal of the match. Hienghène was eliminated of Coupe de France once again.
The last time a team from Oceania won in one eliminatory match of Coupe de France was in 2010/11 season; the Hienghène Sport rivals AS Magenta won on penalties in that opportunity the French side Dunkerque. Before that it was the Tahitian powerhouse AS Tefana that turned themselves in the first team from an overseas territory to eliminate a club from France in the tournament playing in the mainland – when they won also in the penalty shootout SR Colmar. In the next season it will complete 10 years since an Oceanian side does not proceed to the 8th round of Coupe de France if the Tahitian champions AS Vénus does not beat Racing Besançon in Papetee.
Now Hienghène Sport total focus will turn move to FIFA Clubs World; their debut will be on 11th December when they travel to Qatar to face their national champions Al-Sadd in an eliminatory match. The last OFC representant in the tournament to win this match was Auckland City in 2014 edition – when the New Zealand club managed to finish the tournament in the 3rd place with a heroic campaign.
Hienghène will need to work hard and improve their mistakes of their previous matches – the final games of Mobil Super Ligue and their decisive match against AS Pierrots Vauban in Strausbourg – to play competitively against a full professional and very strong side of Al-Sadd. The Qataris almost won AFC Champions League in the present season, failling to win the Saudi Arabian side of Al-Hilal in the semifinals. Theoretically Hienghène can not be a threat for Al-Sadd; this is the task the team coached by Felix Tagawa will need to deal with to represent well New Caledonia, Oceania and all the football crazy fans of the region when they enter the pitch for their most important ever match.
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