This year the Oceania Football Confederation's Champions League has a revised format . It's predecessor, the OFC Club Championship, was hosted at one venue, but the 2007 edition is seeing the top club teams from New Zealand, New Caledonia, Tahiti, Fiji and the Solomon Islands the chance to battle it out in a two group tournament with fixtures played home and away.
The group winners advance to a two legged final with the winner qualifying for the 2007 FIFA Club World Cup and potential prize money of $1 million USD. But as well as giving the teams the chance to become the region's premier club, it is also giving football fans across the region a better opportunity to see the best players and teams in action in their own countries.
So far, the competition has been a big success - with over 17,000 people attending Marist FC's match with Ba in Honiara in the Solomon Islands. There has also been a cross-city rivalry with defending champions Auckland City FC taking on Waitakere United which has generated plenty of interest in New Zealand and beyond.
FIFA.com brings you up to speed with what has been going on in the southern hemisphere, starting with the group that contains the two Kiwi clubs.
Group A: Little to separate New Zealanders
With only the top team from each group progressing to the final, the match between Auckland City and Waitakere United at Kiwitea Street on Wednesday 4 April looks to be decisive. The two sides met at Fred Taylor Park on Wednesday 25 January, where an 89th minute equaliser from Grant Young earned Auckland a 2-2 draw, after the home side had been 2-0 up with only 17 minutes remaining.
Both New Zealand outfits have enjoyed comfortable victories against New Caledonia's AS Mont Dore. The inaugural fixture of the OFC Champions League was held at the Numa Daly Stadium in Noumea and saw Auckland run out 2-0 winners, thanks to a brace from All White international Paul Urlovic. Following that match, the club parted company with coach Francois Tartas.
Christophe Oiremoin was in place for the second match of AS Mont Dore's campaign, a trip to Waitakere United, which ended in a comprehensive 6-1 defeat. More misery was to follow for Oiremoin's squad three days later, as they lost 4-0 to Auckland City.
The current Group A table sees Auckland at the section's summit with seven points from their three matches, while Waitakere are second with four points. However, Waitakere have a game in hand over their rivals and any sort of victory over AS Mont Dore on 31 March would see them go to the top of the section. It appears that this section will reach a thrilling climax.
However, AS Mont Dore goalkeeper Yann Faye believes that Auckland will end up as group winners. "We lost 6-1 to Waitakere United and recently we lost 4-0 to Auckland City," he said. "But to me Auckland City have an edge. We will give our best in the final match against Waitakere United. We believe we can still do something in this competition."
Group B: Football fever hits the Solomon Islands
A capacity crowd gathered at the Lawson Tama Stadium for the meeting of the Melanesian football giants: Marist and Ba. The match dominated the media in the days leading up to the fixture, while all flights into the island were sold out by the football-hungry public of the South Pacific.
The game, however, was to end in disappointment for the home team, as a 36th minute strike from Osea Vakatalesau and a 57th minute penalty from goalkeeper Laisenia Tuba gave Ba a well-deserved victory.
The Fijians were denied a second victory by a late equaliser in their next match with Tahiti's AS Temanava. Fiji captain Roneel Kumar put Ba ahead on 28 minutes following an error from goalkeeper Franck Revel, but a 78th minute spot kick from Jean Francois Kabeu restored parity for the Tahitians.
Ba have control Group B with four points out of a possible six from their two away fixtures. AS Temanava sit in second spot with one point while Marist FC are third and yet to register a point.
OFC Champions League
AS Mont Dore - Waitakere United
Auckland City - Waitakere United
Ba - Marist
AS Temanava - Marist
Ba - AS Temanava
Marist - AS Temanava