Wednesday , May 29 2024

Tahiti provides stunning backdrop to OFC Men’s Champions League 2024!

The picturesque and idyllic surroundings of Tahiti will play host as this year’s OFC Men’s Champions League kicks off on May 11 in Papeete.

2024 marks the second time that French Polynesia has hosted OFC’s premier men’s club competition. In 2005, the island welcomed clubs from across Oceania for the then OFC Club Championship, which saw Australia’s Sydney FC overcome New Caledonia’s AS Magenta in the final.

Whilst Tahiti is more commonly known for it’s love of and success in Beach Soccer, the eleven-a-side game has always proved popular, with club sides a perennial presence in the OFC Men’s Champions League.

Three times their sides have made it to the final; AS Pirae in 2006, AS Tefana in 2012 and most recently AS Vénus in 2022. On each occasion Auckland City has put paid to Tahitian dreams and the New Zealand champions will again be the team to beat for any side harbouring ambitions of lifting the trophy.

The national team has also been a consistently competitive outfit in OFC competitions. Most notably with their historic OFC Men’s Nations Cup triumph in 2012. Having topped their group with three wins from three, Tahiti narrowly saw off the Solomon Islands 1-0 in the semi-final before making history with another single goal victory in the final against New Caledonia in Honiara.

It remains the only OFC Men’s Nations Cup where neither Australia nor New Zealand took the trophy home.

The women’s team are also showing signs of improvement. In 2022, they progressed past the group stage of an OFC Women’s Nations Cup for the first time in their history, narrowly losing their quarter-final encounter with the Solomon Islands 1-0 in Suva.

This year’s OFC Men’s Champions League sees AS Pirae return as Tahiti’s representative, and they’ll be keen to build upon an impressive showing last year, where they topped their group, only to be undone by Fiji’s Suva FC in a dramatic 4-2 defeat after extra-time.

Pirae have been the dominant force on the domestic front in French Polynesia. In April of this year they secured the Tahiti Ligue 1 title, marking their fourth championship success in the last five years. The only other side to lift the title since 2019 are AS Tefana, the team that Pirae overcame in their National Playoff to ensure qualification for this year’s Champions League.

Stade Pater will again be one of venues used for the upcoming tournament. The stadium – which hosted the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship in 2023 – will host all Group B matches, as well as both semi-finals and the final. Stade Paea, located a little over 20km further south on the island, will be the stage for all Group A matches.

With anticipation for the OFC Men’s Champions League reaching fever pitch, the tournament is yet another reminder of the growing popularity and passion for football in Tahiti, and whilst Beach Soccer has always been close to Tahitian hearts, the 11-a-side game will surely be catching the eye as the very best club sides from across Oceania battle it out for the ultimate prize.

Every match of the OFC Men’s Champions League 2024 can be watched LIVE and FREE on FIFA+

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