OFC Champions League set for New Zealand

The Oceania Football Confederation’s premier international club competition is coming to New Zealand.

The OFC will host the 2016 OFC Champions League from 9-23 April, with matches being shared between Auckland and Wellington.

It will be the first time the tournament has been held in New Zealand under its current format and the first time the capital will welcome the competition.

OFC Competitions Director Chris Kemp says the tournament brings together the very best of what the region has to offer at club level.

“This is the premier competition for club football in OFC and includes some of the most-talented players in Oceania,” Kemp says.

“The Champions League always attracts plenty of interest, and with Auckland City FC and Team Wellington both qualifying from New Zealand it is very exciting to be able to give local fans the chance to watch their team compete on the big stage.”

Auckland City FC return as defending champions and will be aiming for a sixth-straight title. They will be joined by 11 other clubs from around the region.

After impressive turns by their representative clubs in the 2015 edition, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea will each be represented by two clubs in 2016.

For Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia it will be the first time they have had two teams competing in the final stage of the competition.

The tournament will see three groups of four teams playing in a league system where the winner of each group and the best runner-up qualify for the semi-finals. The eventual winner will represent OFC at the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup.

One group will be staged in Wellington, while two groups plus the semi-finals and final on 20 April and 23 April will be held in Auckland.

Between 26-30 January the club champions from American Samoa, Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga will take part in the 2016 OFC Champions League Preliminary in the Cook Islands, with the winner claiming the last remaining spot in the Champions League.

The draw for the OFC Champions League will be confirmed at a later date.