Auckland City FC take on AS Pirae in OFC Men’s Champions League final!

Stade Pater in Papeete will be the venue for the OFC Men’s Champions League 2024 final, as defending champions Auckland City FC take on Tahiti’s AS Pirae, with Oceania’s biggest club prize at stake.

The New Zealand side will be looking to win a record-extending 12th OFC Men’s Champions League, having secured their 11th last year in Vanuatu in dramatic circumstances. A late equaliser in the semi-final saved their campaign as they went on to beat Ifira Black Bird on penalties, before a 4-2 win in extra-time against Suva FC clinched the title.

Auckland City booked their place in the final with a narrow 1-0 victory over AS Magenta, in a tie where the New Zealander’s experience of the big matches paid dividends – admirably controlling proceedings to see out the result.

AS Pirae are into the final for only the second time in their history. In 2006 they faced Auckland City in the final, played at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland, losing 3-1 to this year’s opponents.

The Tahitian club made sure of their final appearance with an epic semi-final win over Fiji’s Rewa FC. Having been 1-0 down in the closing stages, two stoppage-time penalties put the Tahiti side in front before a late equaliser forced extra-time.

Two goals in the additional 30 minutes were enough for Vatea Terai’s side to see off Rewa and set-up a meeting with the reigning champions.

Auckland City FC Coach Albert Riera is aware that his side will be seen as favourites but welcomes the pressure that comes with that.

“Any footballer wants to feel this. Once you feel it once, you want to keep going, because football is all about that. You know, this positive pressure makes you a better person and a better footballer I think,” Riera said.

Whether his side’s approach to Friday’s final will differ from the previous four matches will depend on the perspective.

“You have to be a bit more aggressive in the approach to these games. But again, you also have to think that you might have extra-time – so from a coaching point of view it’s a bit hard, but from a player’s point of view it’s exactly the same,” he continued.

For AS Pirae, the prize of winning an OFC Men’s Champions League in front of a home crowd couldn’t be any bigger and Coach Vatea Terai is well aware of what will be required to lift the trophy.

“Auckland City are the big favourites for this tournament. You can talk about 110% but for this final, we’re going to be at 500% to try to and win this trophy.”

“We have players in our squad with a lot of international experience. They will help the team in terms of preparation and also during the match to help the players manage their emotions, so this is a key point that will help us in the final,” said Terai.

Victory on Friday for Terai’s team would not only provide an incredible boost to football across French Polynesia but also mark only the third time in competition history where a team from outside New Zealand and Australia has lifted the trophy. Hienghène Sport of New Caledonia were crowned champions in 2019, whilst Papua New Guinea’s Hekari United were champions in 2010.

For AS Pirae to join that exclusive club, it will take an incredible performance against the multi-time Oceania champions.

With so much on the line and the margins of victory so far in this tournament proving to be narrow, it’s all set-up to be a must-watch encounter at Stade Pater on Friday evening.

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