This Saturday – 17th February – AS Pirae and AS Dragon meet for the first time at the Stade Pater in Papeete – at 8 pm local time, the capital of French Polynesia to see who will get a spot among the eight qualifiers for the next round of the OFC Champions League.
AS Pirae are the defending Tahitian Ligue 1 champions and have already played in the 2021 edition of the FIFA Club World Cup and are looking to advance and try to repeat the feat. Last year they were eliminated by AS Vénus with a late goal by Roonui Tehau in extra time. AS Vènus who were finalists in the last edition of the Champions League ended up missing out on the OFC Champions League by finishing third in the domestic league after leading of the championship for a good part of the season.
AS Dragon, on the other hand, finished second in both the Tahitian Ligue 1 to AS Pirae and the Polynesian Cup to AS Vènus. Nevertheless, the team coached by Chilean-Tahitian Diego Araneda did not end up with no trophies in 2022, winning the Elite Cup against Tamari Punaruu on penalties.
It will surely be one of the most balanced duels of this stage of the competition. AS Dragon leads Ligue 1 Tahiti without dropping a single point so far, having won all their matches. The mix of experience and youth has been fundamental in the campaign of the team that counts with players such as the legend of the Oceania football – Raimana Li Fung Kuee -, the top scorer of Ligue 1 – Roonui Tiniarauarii – and also the young promising goalkeeper Anapa Debruyne.
AS Pirae still has most of the players who were two-time Tahitian champions last year, they also have experienced players who made up the Tahitian team in last year’s FIFA World Cup qualifiers like Alvin Tehau and Heimano Bourebare; not to mention that they still have good players like the offensive duo Sandro Tau and Benoit Mathon.
The return match will also take plac at the Stade Pater in Papeete – but the decisive encounter will be played on the following Saturday – 25th February.