The unique full professional football team of Oceania starts their run at A-League – Australian football top tier – 2019/20 season against the newcomers Western United playing at home ground in Wellington.
The Phoenix will be facing a very harsh challenge to receive back their former coach Mark Rudan after his polemical departure at the end of the last seaosn. Rudan accepted a deal with the new A-League franchise Western United and rumours emerged after some important Wellington Phoenix players – that made a very good season under Rudan coaching – decided not to sign a new contract with the New Zealand based club and followed Rudan steps to his new team. Former Wellington Phoenix captain, Andrew Durante, moved to Western United alongisde other very important players as Max Burgess and the A-League best goalkeeper of the year, Filip Kurto.
Under Rudan, Phoenix could bounce back after several season without competing at the Playoffs – finishing in a qualifying position, but lost their at the first stage against Melbourne Victory – and increased their fans hopes. Rudan surprisingly said he needed to leave Wellington due family problems – not keeping at the job until the end of his contract that was to be at the final 2019/20 season – at the end of the 2018/19 season.
To replace Mark Rudan as head coach, Phoenix chose another Australian: Ufuk Talay. Talay was A-League champions last season with Sidney FC as assistant coach and was indicated by Rudan to the Wellington-based club board.
With the departure of many important players – some to the new Rudan side, Western United – Talay needed to rebuild almost the entire team since before the new signings the roster had only seven players. The biggest absence in comparison with the last will be surely the ‘Fijian Flyer’ Roy Krishna that departed to Indian Super League side ATK after being the top-scorer and winner of Johnny Warren Medal – the award for the best player in the A-League season. In ATK, Krishna was joined by his partner at Phoenix, David Williams, another big missing for the New Zealand club.
Talay brought new many players, but the maintaning Steven Taylor – English Central Back, former Newcastle United – was surely a big deal. Taylor received the arm-band and will be the new captain in a rebulding season for the ‘Nix’.
Some young New Zealand talents came to Phoenix, as the case of former Eastern Suburbs and ISPS Handa Premiership 2018/19 Golden Boot winner Callum McCowatt and former Auckland City defender Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi. To replace the absence of Krishna and Williams, new imports were signed as the Mexican and former Chelsea FC midfielder Ulisses Dávila and the English striker David Ball. You can check here the full current squad of the Wellington Phoenix.
The Phoenix will be starting their new season this 13th October at 6pm NZT with live coverage of Sky Sports and My Football.
The dream of playing a FIFA World Cup is over for Maxwell Keana. He was ruled out of U17 squad just two weeks before Solomon Islands’ debut in the World Cup that’s going to be held in Brazil.
The 17 years old midfielder failed to a medical test which the whole squad underwent in a hospital in Honiara. He will stay in his country while his National Team mates will live his dream. He was part of the brilliant Solomon Islands’ squad that finished as OFC U16 Championship runner-up.
We hope Keana get well soon to show us his talent with Kossa and come back to National Team. He’s a talented player and surely will have more opportunities in Solomon Islands squads. Maybe his dream isn’t over, but just postponed, once he’s part of a bright generation of SI football and he’ll have the possibility to play a World Cup in the future.
Suva won Ba by 1-0 in 2019 Inter-District Championship in a thrilling semifinal. Christopher Wasasala scored a late goal in the 88th minute to take Suva to IDC final for second straight year to face Labasa.
After losing 2018 final for Lautoka, Suva comes back to final ready to lift this trophy for the 14th time in its history while Labasa won IDC four times. Both teams already clashed in an Inter-District final. It was in 1994 and Babasiga Lions screwed up the party by beating the host Suva by 1-0.
The Capital Boys counts on Wasasala finishing power to win. The number 10 scored four goals so far in the competition, being the current IDC top scorer.
For Labasa side, Atonio Tuivuna scored three goals in four matches. Despite scoring only one goal in this tournament, Suva needs to keep an eye on Siotame Kubu that can be a game changer for their defense.
The wait is finally over and Port Vila Premier League is back with a lot of goals! Come with us and see what happened in the first gameweek of PVFA PL.
Erakor Golden Star 3-0 Tupuji Imere (WO)
The kick off wasn’t kicked off actually. Tupuji Imere didn’t turn up for the match due to team vice-president’s mother death. They’ve sent a postponement request for PVFA but the forfeit info, for now, stands since some managers, media and even important players mentioned the postponement wasn’t done in time for Tupuji Imere. Erakor Golden Star was initially awarded with the three points. Let’s wait for the next days to confirm if this match will be played or not.
Galaxy FC 14-0 Yatel
As we previewed, Yatel wasn’t a challenge for Galaxy FC. With a massive win and a great performance, the blues smashed Yatel by 14-0 and takes the lead of PVFA Premier League. Kensi Tangis scored four goals and is the current league top scorer. Roberson and James Naka scored three goals each.
Ifira Black Bird 2-0 Mauwia
Jean-Marie Manuriki and Olsen Sia scored one goal each to guarantee three points for Ifira BB against recent promoted Mauwia.
Tafea 2-0 Sia-Raga
Tafea’s title goalscorer in Port Vila Opening Cup final against Galaxy FC, Jordy Tasip came back to Vanuatu after U23 OFC Championship and showed why he deserves to be a National Team player. The young forward scored twice to give Tafea their first three points in the league. He’s really becoming an important player for Tafea!
Next week matches: Galaxy vs Mauwia Tupuji Imere vs Sia-Raga Tafea vs Yatel Ifira Black Bird vs Erakor Golden Star
Take a look in the current league standings and the goalscorers:
Once Nadi President Javed Ahmed confirmed that eight players have been dropped from the squad and suspended, Nadi became an easy prey in Inter-District Championship semi final. Without Ame Votonui, Vuniuci Tikomaimereke, Christopher Kumar, Patrick Joseph, Mataiasi Toma, Jone Ralulu, Husseini Khan and Josevata Malakai, Nadi wasn’t able to deal with Labasa and lost by 5-0.
The playres were suspended due after a drinking spree to celebrate their win against Nadi in their final pool match. Ahmed also confirmed Coach Pranesh Amarsee has been asked to step aside until the end of IDC and Aginesh Prasad will be assisting the team for the Finals.
Labasa goals were scored by Ilisoni Logaivau (2), Ashnil Raju and Atonio Tuivuna. The fifth goal was a penalty kick scored by goalkeeper Akuila Mateisuva.
The suspended eight offered their apologies to the team management and players yesterday and wished the team all the best. Their fate will futher be decided when the Nadi FA Board meets next month.
Labasa will face Suva or Ba in the final match tomorrow.
The waiting is over! Port Vila Premier League is back with four matches this weekend. Eight teams will fight for the glory this season!
Tupuji Imere vs Erakor Golden Star
Current winner 2019 Independence Cup, Tupuji Imere looks forward to make a better campaign in this Premier League season. They’ll have a tough challenge against strong Erakor Golden Star but they already proved they’re capable to win once they’ve beaten Erakor Golden Star by 3-2 in Independende Cup quarter final.
Galaxy vs Yatel
Current champion of Port Vila Top Four and qualified for 2020 OFC Champions League, Galaxy came back even stronger for this season with some new players like Bong Kalo, Gabriel and Roberson aiming their first Premier League title. Yatel probably won’t be a challenge for Galaxy.
Ifira Black Bird vs Mauwia
Despite being favourite for this match, Ifira Black Bird needs to keep an eye on Mauwia. They faced each other recently in Port Vila Opening Cup and Ifira BB won by 2-1.
Tafea vs Sia-Raga
Current Premier League Champions, Tafea comes stronger for this season. After Amicale’s bankruptcy many Amicale players went to Tafea looking for titles. Just like Ifira vs Mauwia, they faced each other in Port Vila Opening Cup group stage and Tafea won by 1-0.
Tony Kaltack is having a brilliant start in Solomon Islands. The Ni-Van forward already scored 9 goals S-League, helping Solomon Warriors to reach the second place right after Henderson Eels.
It’s not the first time that we see a Ni-Van forward scoring a lot of goals and being important for Solomon Warriors. Kensi Tangis also had a great time while playing in Lawson Tama Stadium.
Currently playing for Galaxy FC in Vanuatu, Tangis had good seasons in Solomon Islands, specially his last one there. He was the 2018-19 S-League top scorer with 23 goals in 13 matches and also scored two goals in 2019 OFC Champions League campaign.
We can’t assure that Tony Kaltack will be as successful as Kensi Tangis, but his beginning is very promising and the 23 years old forward is ready to shine as much as he does in Vanuatu National Team!
Rogério Ceni is one of the most successful goalkeepers of all time. He is the biggest idol of São Paulo Futebol Clube, one of the greatest teams in Brazil, winning 19 trophies in 25 years with Tricolor Paulista.
He also capped 16 times for Brazil National Team, being part of 2002 World Cup champion squad as Marcos’ back-up.
Despite being a great goalkeeper under the post, he’s most known due to his goals. Ceni was a prolific free-kick and penalty-kick taker. He’s the goalkeeper with most goals scored in football history with 131 goals, all of them for São Paulo.
Even not being a free kick taker, Fijian goalkeeper Tevita Koroi is something special when it comes to penalty kick taking. Tailevu Naitasiri scored 23 goals in 2019 season including Vodafone Senior League and Inter-District Championship. He was one of the team’s season topscorer wth three goals, alongside with Prashant Chand and Jone Salauneune. The difference is that Koroi played 12 games, averaging 0,25 goals per match, while Chand played 13 matches and Salauneune played eight.
Currently playing for Tailevu Naitasiri, the 25 years old goalkeeper has already a good history in local Football. He took part in Fiji U20 squad for 2013 OFC U20 Championship helping his national team to finish as runner-up. He also took part in one of the greatest moments of Oceanian football history: he was the Fiji’s starting goalkeeper in 2015 U23 Olympic Qualifier, saving a penalty kick against Vanuatu in the final match to get a spot in 2016 Olympics.
With a good past, the young goalkeeper looks forward to new challenges. He’s ready to prove everyone he’s able to come back to Fiji Premier League and show his potential.
As most of you are already used to, we always bring information about football in Oceania in our Facebook page. With this new website we intend to bring more and more features and content for you!
Interviews are some the novelties that is coming with the website and here we go with our first OFCe official interview with a footballer that played in Oceania early this year.
Hello Federico! How are you? First of all I’d like to thank you for accepting our invitation for this interview. Would you like to start this interview by introducing yourself to our readers?
Thanks for having me, really appreciate it. My name is Federico Diaz I’m 27 years old and I’m a Uruguayan/American footballer.
You recently played in Oceania for Samoan club Kiwi FC. How did you get to Samoa? Who called you to play for Kiwi? May you tell us some details about this negotiation? It’s not everyday that we see a player crossing the whole world to play semi-professional football.
Well… It’s funny you asked this. I actually got in contact with the club through Facebook (laugh). I sent them a video and CV and they offered me a place on the OCL squad. As for negotiations, I did it for the experience as not everyone can say they’ve played in champions league football. I was given some compensation but nothing crazy.
You helped Kiwi to qualify for 2019 Oceania Champions League Group Stage. You also scored a goal against Tupapa Maraerenga. Could you tell us about this Kiwi’s journey in OCL? How was it?
I didn’t do it alone. It was a great team effort that got us through to the groups. The goal was such an amazing feeling but I’m usually pretty good at penalties so I knew that it was gonna go in (laugh). Honestly the whole journey from the qualifiers through the group stage was just amazing! We had so many people cheering for us who believed in us and then even had people who didn’t believe in us cheered for us. I wish I could relive it again, it was truly special.
What were the people reactions to you once you were a foreign player in a small country?
Well, as a foreigner no matter where in the world you go you gotta perform you gotta be the best or better than what they have so I knew I had to go perform. Throughout the journey I felt as I had one below average game (Samoan derby) so I knew I had to pick up my game and I believe I did with a convincing performance in 8-1 win against Lotoha’apai United in OFC Champions League. During this time a sports radio in Uruguay talked about my journey in Samoa and friends and family heard it on the radio. I started receiving messages and phone calls wishing me luck so that also helped me push to be the best I could.
Who was the best player you played alongside in Samoa? And who was the most promising?
I won’t lie, I had a very low idea of how football was in Oceania besides New Zealand so I came thinking everyone was gonna be average or not good, but some guys amazed me like Kenneth Kerewi and Andrew Setefano, two guys with experience in pro leagues, FIFA Club World Cup and have played the lives through the pacific. It was great to play alongside them. There was a few promising guys on Kiwi that could definitely make an impact for Samoa in the future but in the mental aspect I feel they need to break through to make it somewhere whether it be in Australia or New Zealand. I know that they can make it but they have to break that barrier.
You’re currently playing football in USA. Would you like to play in Oceania again? Did you enjoy playing for Kiwi?
I loved it. I had such a great experience with them. I’d be playing there right now if I could. Hopefully in the near future I can have the opportunity to play out in NZ. I would love that so I can keep my footballing career going.
What do you personally think about football in Oceania? What can be done to help local football development?
I think football in Oceania is good but the coaching lacks too much in the tactical side of the game. Many times you see the Kiwis (New Zealand National Football Team) dominating the islands but honestly it’s not because they’re better technically or fitter, it’s just because they are tactically better and in today’s modern game if you lack one of the three things fitness, tactical and technical you’ll lose games. If coaches get taught about the tactical side of the game, Oceania football will grow a lot in the next few years. I also believe some of the leagues should become semi pro and be able to pay their players not with huge amounts of money but just something to keep players motivated and willing to play more and get better so they can eventually move on to bigger and better things.
What do you think about Oceania Football Center work in terms of helping football development in Oceania? Do you feel that these ideas and hardworking of OFCe staff are being successful?
You guys are great and doing an excellent job. Obviously it’s not easy as we both know sometimes it’s very hard to communicate with people from the islands as they don’t answer or answer back way later so it’s hard to try and work with them to help in the game’s development. Most islanders aren’t very keen with outsiders trying to come and help them. But if these things change and they listen to the ideas and projects you guys have, football in the region would blow up and I’m not saying in 2-3 years but maybe if you guys were able to help possibly in the next 5-10 years football would take over from rugby in the Pacific Islands.
First of all, we’d like to thank Federico for the patience to answer all questions. Stay tuned because Oceania Football Center will bring a lot of information on this website!