After securing their spots in the OFC Champions League 2018 Quarter Finals Nalkutan FC and Lae City Dwellers have set up a Match Day 3 showdown to decide who will get home advantage, while the look of the bottom half of the standings will be decided when Tupapa Maraerenga and Ba FC meet.
Two promising performances from Fiji club Ba weren’t enough to overcome either of their previous opponents, but the narrow losses give Ronil Kumar’s side hope that they can finish the tournament on a high, OFC reports.
Having shuffled his pack somewhat based on the loss of central defender Malakai Tiwa to suspension, Kumar also looked to try something different up front, which meant starts for Troy Watson and Narend Rao.
The pair combined well with youngster Kishan Sami who put on a mature, confident display despite being just 17 years old. However the side were still unable to make themselves a threat to Lae’s defences.
At the other end of the park, it was Ba’s goalkeeper Josaia Ratu keeping his team in the match as, despite carrying an injury, he made incredible, athletic saves to deny a worthy Lae front line from netting.
Potentially without Ratu for their final match, Ba do have former U-20 goalkeeper Misiwani Nairube to call on and with his talent and experience he should offer safety at the back.
Although Tupapa Maraerenga have struggled to impose themselves in this competition, the Cook Islands club champions showed great improvement from match one to two, and are looking to continue that in their final encounter at Korman Stadium.
Maro Bonsu-Maro netted in open play against current group leaders Lae City Dwellers, and threatened to continue that form against Nalkutan with several penetrating runs causing problems for the home side.
With both sides hoping to leave Port Vila with some consolation points in their hands, it’s bound to be an exciting match-up and will provide a perfect entrée to the final Group A match which sees the top two sides meet in the decider.
Whoever wins gets a home quarter final and both Nalkutan and Lae City Dwellers want to reward their loyal fans with that prize.