Holders Auckland City and Vanuatu’s Amicale are into next week’s OFC Champions League final setting up a rematch of the 2011 decider.
Though Auckland – winners of the past three titles – beat Amicale on that occasion, it is the Melanesians who go into the decider with a mental edge having defeated their opponents in the past two meetings, including earlier this season.
On Sunday, Auckland City survived a tough examination from AS Pirae in Tahiti before eventually prevailing 4-2 on aggregate. Holding a comfortable 3-0 opening leg advantage, the Navy Blues were under serious pressure when first-half goals from Jimmy Tepa and FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup hero Naea Bennett reduced the deficit, only for Portuguese striker Joao Moreira to give Auckland some breathing space.
Led by the midfield promptings of Tahitian icon Marama Vahirua, Pirae were in dynamic form however they couldn’t break the experienced Auckland defence despite the visitors being reduced to ten men during the final stages.
Saturday saw Amicale advance to the continental final for the second time in three years after they drew 0-0 with Fijian champions Ba in Port Vila.
Played before a sell-out crowd of 9,000, Amicale started as favourites after last week’s 2-1 come-from-behind victory in Fiji.
Ba were hampered by the loss of influential skipper and international striker Osea Vakatalesau to injury midway through the first half, while stand-in skipper Abu Zahid was sent off midway through the second period.
The match, nevertheless, remained on a knife edge throughout with numerous goalscoring chances at either end.
The first leg of the final is scheduled for Port Vila next Saturday, with the return in Auckland on Sunday 18 May.
The winner of the OFC Champions League advances to the FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2014 in December.