All Whites striker Chris Wood is off to Forest

Rumours are now confirmed: the well-known kiwi striker Chris Wood, 31-year-old, made his move to a new club in England, the traditional Nottingham Forest. Newcastle and Forest agreed on terms this morning and he will join The Reds on loan with an obligation-to-buy clause. Wood will undergo medicals and is expected to sign contract still this week.

Nottingham Forest will be the 14th team in his career which includes eleven different clubs in England. Fans were quite surprised with the transfer; Wood scored two goals for Newcastle in the league, helping the team to have a very good campaign so far. “It’s so weird seeing Newcastle sell their best striker in the January window. £25m he cost them and now they are already letting him go, this is the perfect example of how not do business.”, said a Forest’s supporter. Despite the words of this Forest fan, Newcastle supporters did not seem impressed with Wood’s recent performances.

Wood is one of the best All Whites players, being the all-time top scorer for his country. At the English Premier League he scored 54 times in 189 appearances. Forest is currently ranked 13th in the league as they were looking for a new striker due of goals scarcity: only 15 goals scored in 19 matches so far this season.

Auckland City to play friendly against Barcelona B for FIFA Club World Cup preparation

From the warm weather of New Zealand to the cold of Spain. Auckland City FC has landed in Salou, Spain, and now preparing for the first friendly match against Reus FC Reddis on Thursday 19th January 2023 (Spain time). With temperatures going around 1°C to 10° C, the Navy Blues already had the first training pitch as soon as they arrived at their training camp at FutbolSalou, close to Barcelona. The team will play three friendly matches and one of them against the powerful Spanish team Barcelona B before departure to Morocco.

Auckland City boss, Spanish Albert Riera is excited to be in his homeland and has disclosed to the press the identity of three opponents over the next ten days. “It’s been a long journey to get here, one I haven’t done for many years and I’m very happy to be back in Catalonia and happy to be back on the grass with the team.”, said.

“The team we are playing tomorrow is Reus FC Reddis who play in the sixth tier of football. On 22nd January we face Jeonbuk Motors, the current Korean champions, and on the 25th we’ll face Barcelona B.” completed Riera.

Head coach Albert Riera at first training session in FutbolSalou, close to Barcelona. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / http://www.phototek.nz

NEW ARRIVALS TO HELP AGAINST AL AHLY

Three new players have arrived to the club this week to help on the big game against Al Ahly. The defense midfielder Michael den Heijer, the defender Nikko Boxall and the right-back Regont Murati are new additions of the summer transfer window joining City with highly successful first stint at Kiwitea Street and around Europe/USA.

The line up is confirmed for tomorrow’s game:

1. Conor TRACEY (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL, 4. Christian GRAY, 5.Nikko BOXALL, 7. Cam HOWIESON, 8. Gerard GARRIGA, 9. Angus KILKOLLY, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 11. Ryan DE VRIES, 12. Regont MURATI, 13. Nathan LOBO, 15. Aidan CAREY, 16. Joe LEE, 18. Finn DOCKERTY (GK), 19. Liam GILLION, 20. Emiliano TADE, 21. Mike den HEIJER, 22. Adam BELL, 23. Matt ELLIS, 24. Cam BROWN (GK), 25. Taukya IWATA.

Training and Match Schedule

Thursday 19 January 2023
Friendly Match
v. Reus Reddis FC
FutbolSalou, Spain

Friday 20 January 2023
Training

Saturday 21 January 2023
Training

Sunday 22 January 2023
Friendly Match
v. Jeonbuk Motors
FutbolSalou, Spain

Monday 23 January 2023
Training

Tuesday 24 January 2023
Training

Wednesday 25 January 2023
Friendly Match
v. Barcelona B
Barcelona, Spain

Thursday 26 January 2023
Depart for Morocco

Roy Krishna finds the rhythm and scores another in Indian Super League

After struggling to perform at his best, the Fijian star Roy Krishna seems that finally is back to his normal level of performance: scoring goals. The striker added another for Bengaluru in their impressive 3-0 away win over Jamshedpur – this is their third win in-a-row after a very disappointing stint in the most important football league from India. For Krishna, this is his second goal in his last two matches – as he returned to score in Bengaluru’s previous match against Odisha.

Krishna got involved in the first goal of his team, creating the play for a cross that ended up in the head of Rohit Kumar that scored the first for his team. At the 34th minute Krishna scored a thunderbolt from long-range to stun the goalkeeper; this is the third goal of the Fijian in the Super League this season.

Krishna celebrates his goal – ISL Media

In the second half Sivasakthi Narayanan added the third goal for Bengaluru to finish in style the game. Bengaluru now sits seventh in the table, just one point away from the playoff qualification zone.

Alex Chin: “I want to play for Tonga to improve the level of the game”

Like other countries in Oceania, Tonga has a totally amateur football league, which makes it very difficult for players to get exposure to play abroad.

Even so, Tonga has relatively large communities in Australia and New Zealand, making it possible to find players with ancestry, such as AJ Inia, the first Tongan to play professional football.

But Tongan descendants are not only found in Australia and New Zealand. Alex Chin, for example, was born in Hong Kong to a Tongan mother. Since 2020, he has been playing professionally for South China in Hong Kong’s second tier after his time with top flight Tai Po.

Alex Chin

Oceania Football Center had the opportunity to talk to Chin about the possibility of him playing for the national team and he said that is a real possibility for him; “As I know in Tonga football is not popular, like it does not have a professional league“, said the player, “So i am willing to play for the country to improve the level of football“, completed Chin.

Alex Chin besides goalkeeper, he has also played this season as a center forward for South China; “Besides goalkeeper, I also train as an outfield player so I could play both, but I am primarily a goalkeeper“.

Alex Chin playing as a striker

Asked if he would like to play in the Pacific Games to be held in Honiara, Solomon Islands this year, Chin did not hesitate to answer that he would be available if called up.

Oceania Football Center have contacted the Tonga Football Association. It is expected the governing body contact Alex Chin to move forward to the paperwork to make him eligible for Tonga.

Roonui Tiniarauarii scores 12 goals in a single game to keep AS Dragon on top of Tahitian Ligue 1

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Roonui Tiniarauarii has been one of the best Tahitian strikers in recent years, always staying at the top of the Ligue 1 scoring charts alongside his national team partner, Teaonui Tehau.

And this season has been no different, the Polynesian Missionary had already scored 10 goals in AS Dragon’s 11-0 thrashing of AS Excelsior in the first round of Ligue 1, now he has again repeated the feat of scoring more than 10 goals in a single match.

It happened again this week when AS Dragon beat AS Jeunes Tahitiens 17-0, Roonui Tiniarauarii scored incredible 12 goals! Roonui is now the top scorer in Tahiti’s Ligue 1 with 32 goals – 10 more than Teaonui Tehau – distancing himself in the race for the league’s top scorer.

Roonui Tiniarauarii vs AS Jeunes Tahitiens – FTF Media

Dragon leads Ligue 1 season 2022/23 with 9 wins from 9 matches; six points ahead of Venus, the second-placed team in the national league.

OFC U-17 Championship: The quarterfinals are set

The quarterfinals of the OFC U-17 Championship were decided this Wednesday – 18th January – after a draw by the Oceania Football Confederation.

New Zealand is the favourite to win the tournament once again – OFC Media

In the first leg of the quarterfinals New Caledonia will face Samoa in Suva on January 21st at 4pm local time; New Caledonia is the favourite to take the semifinal spot, but Samoa is certainly the biggest threat the Cagous could have, players like Newcastle Jets’ wonder boy Pharrell Trainor could surprise coach Leonardo Lopez’s team.

Tahiti and Tonga will also face each other in Suva on January 21st at 7pm local time; Tahiti is the overwhelming favorite to win, and of the teams apart New Zealand, they are the ones who have played the best football so far, and should have Keanan Faure back in the starting line-up after he was rested against Cook Islands. Tonga lost their two games so far – to see the Tongans proceed would be a major upset.

On January 22nd, Fiji takes on the Cook Islands at 4pm local time; Fiji is certainly the favorite to beat Cook Islands because it possesses more talent than its opponent, but it must be careful because the Cook Islands team led by coach Tahiri Elikana had shown in the match against Vanuatu that they can offer also be a threat to its opponents.

Next, at 7pm, New Zealand, who is the favorite to win the tournament and one of the spots for the U-17 World Cup, will face Vanuatu; New Zealand is the favourite to get past Vanuatu that has so far not impressed, a team that had a hard time against Cook Islands and was dominated by Tahiti.

All matches will be broadcast by streaming app Eleven Sports.

U-17 OFC Championship: Fiji beats Tonga in a rainy day in Suva

Fijians and Tongans needed to overcome the rain and wet pitch in Suva in the final match of the group stage of the U-17 OFC Championship. The Fijians were expected a massive victory over the minnows, but the weather was a fierce rival for the local side. Due to the rain, the match needed to be postponed – starting 45 minutes later than previously scheduled.

The Fijians took an early lead after a defensive blunder from the Tongan defence. Jacob Seninawanwana was gifted the ball inside the penalty box – just one touch was needed to put it back of the net to confirm the lead at the 8th minute.

Fijians celebrate their goal – OFC Media

Fiji continued to press up top, while Tonga proved to be a threat with the pace of its strikers in counter-attacks. The young talented Ibraheem Afazal tried a long-range finished that went close to the crossbar.

The wet surface made the game turn into a physical battle; the Tonga defence led by the captain Sione Talia’uli managed to deal well with Fijian attack – making a number of strong tackles and keeping the ball away from their penalty box.

A moment that could be a turning point into the game happend already in the final minutes of the first half: Sailimone Ravonokula received a second yellow-card after get involved in a brawl close to the corner flag. This was the first red card shown in the entire competition.

With the start of the second half, the heavy rain also followed it. What could be a chance for the Tongan team to make an upset rapidly turned into ashes: the Australian-based Ibraheem Afazal received a beautiful through pass from Waitisoni Batirerega – that came in as substitute at the halftime – and placed it well at the bottom right corner of the goalkeeper Siosuia Moimoi.

The wet pitch, the inability to exchange passes and the tiredness of both teams not allowed much more goalscoring chances to be created. The second half was marked by a number of late challenges, commited fouls and yellow cards for both sides.

When the game was already close to its final whistle, Waitisoni Batirerega managed to give another assist; this time his cross found Prashant Kumar in the box that headed it home to score Fiji’s third goal in the clash. The final score ended up in favour of the Fijians: 3-0.

Despite losing, Tonga also proceeded to the quarterfinals of the tournament: according to the draw realised by OFC, they will meet Tahiti in the next stage; Fiji takes on the Cook Islands.

Raphael Lea’i arrives in Europe; new details about his possible deal

Raphael Lea’i is having another very good chance – maybe the best of all he had – to sign professional deal – as recently explained by Oceania Football Center. The young striker from Solomon Islands already landed in Bosnia and Herzegovina and joined 1st-tier club FK Velež Mostar for a period of trainings – Lea’i will use the facilities of the Mostar-based team in order to prepare for his trial in the Turkey’s top-tier club Alanyaspor.

Lea’i wearing FK Velež Mostar colours

Oceania Football Center talked to Henderson Eels representantive Wakio Tareina’a that kindly provided more information regarding the situation of Lea’i stay in Europe. Tareina’a confirmed that the 19 year-old striker will only stay in Mostar to prepare for the trial: “The initial aim is to train in Bosnia before trial in Turkey” he said, but he also mentioned a ‘Plan B’ in case of the things do not go as planed in Turkey: “In that case if any club in Bosnia get interest in him then he can sign with them”, completed Tareina’a.

YouTube: Oceania Football Center

It is expected that Lea’i train around to one or two months in Mostar before heading to his trial – that has not a fixed date as confirmed by Henderson Eels’ Tareina’a. The fans might get intrigued on why Lea’i is training exactly in Bosnia and Herzegovina not somewhere else, the situation is also explained by Eels’ chairman: “A member of the coaching staff of FK Velež Mostar is the responsible for arranging the trials for Raphael in Turkey“. It is also known the agent wanted Raphael Lea’i to be fully prepared for the trials, that’s why he is using the facilities of the club to get ready.

Oceania Football Center will continue following the development of the Lea’i’s trials.

National Soccer League semifinals are postponed in Papua New Guinea

No National Soccer League football will be played this Wednesday (18th Jan) in Papua New Guinea. The semifinals stage are postponed and they are expected to be played next Saturday (21th Jan) in different venues than announced before by the PNG Football Association and stated by Oceania Football Center.

According to sources inside the governing body, the matches were rescheduled to cut expenses; as before stated by PNGFA in social media the both semifinal matches would take place in Port Moresby at PNG Football Stadium.

Match of the quarterfinals of NSL between Paguna Metals and Hekari United – PNGFA Media

Now, in order to cut expenses, the matches will take place in two venues – one in Lae and another in Port Moresby. As two teams based in Lae (Lae Natives and Lae City) were draw in one of the semifinal matches, both sides will play in Lae. The same happened in the other semifinal – two Port Moresby (Gulf Komara and Hekari United) teams were draw and then they will play this decisive match in the capital city.

This is not the first time the governing body of football in Papua New Guinea postpones the decisive matches of the National Soccer League. The quarterfinals were twice postponed last year, forcing the decisive games of the national league to played in 2023 – meaning the 2022 edition of the most important football competition of the country will finish in the following year.

Solomon Islands’ international looks for football opportunities in the Middle East

A product of Royals Football Academy in Solomon Islands is currently based in the Middle East; the Solomon Islands’ international striker Ali Mekawir is currently playing in United Arab Emirates after a spell in Australia’s National Premier League side Adelaide City – where he played a total of nine games. The striker, who represented the Solomon Islands in age group tournaments as well in the OFC 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Tournament, is currently attached to TFA Dubai – an academy that presents itself as ”specialized pathways for athletes to go professional” in its social media account.

TFA Dubai is not just only a football academy – as its name says “The Football Academy” – they also have a team that is currently playing in the 4th-tier of football in UAE. Mekawir is being active throught the season since he arrived in the country last October.

Ali Mekawir with his new team colours – UAE FA

The striker that represented his country already twice, played a total of 280 minutes across five matches for TFA Dubai team – he is still to score a goal for his new club. The 22-year-old already recorded some special moments in his carrer, as scoring in the English FA Cup for Langley Wanderers in the 2020/21 season.