The national round of the OFC Champions League started this weekend; in Papua New Guinea Hekari United pulled ahead of Lae City and in New Caledonia the national champions Tiga Sport emerged victorious over former OFC Champions League winner Hienghène Sport.
The team coached by Leonardo Lopez took the field of Stade Numa Daly in Nouméa as the current Super Ligue champions of New Caledonia, but they had a tough opponent ahead; with the likes of Roy Kayara, Bertrand Kaï and Cedrick Sansot, Hyehen was ready to make things difficult for the Tokanod – that could not count on the top-scorer Lues Waya that recently signed for Laval in France.
Already at the 5th minute of play, Jean-Jacques Bearuné took the lead for Tiga as he received the ball in the box and with a placed-finish went past Rocky Nyikeine to score the first for the red-and-white side. But Hienghène Sport managed to equalise early: after a corner, the defence of Tiga managed to clear the ball, but another cross was made to the box: the tall Cedrick Sansot tried to reach ball, fell, but still in the ground the ball offered itself for the midfield that managed to get a volley direct to the nets of Tiga Sport.
The striker Jimmy Welepane put Tiga ahead once again; still in the 18th minute mark the striker was found free in the penalty box, after poor marking of Hienghène defensive system. The striker made no mistake in front of the nets and put his upfront in the race.
Hienghène pushed for another equaliser, but it was Tiga who found the nets once again through David Bearuné; in another defensive blunder of Hienghène, the players waited for an offside call, but as it did not happen, Bearuné took the ball, passed two defenders and with a clinical finish put the ball at the top corner of Nyikeine to add another and give final numbers to the match in favour of the Tiga Island-based side: 3-1. You can watch the highlights of the game by clicking here.
The team coached by Félix Tagawa will need to produce much better football in the second leg of the round if they want once again to take part of the group stage of the OFC Champions League – tournament they won back in 2019. Tiga Sport is heading for their first ever appearance in the group stage if they manage to defend their advantage taken in the first leg.