Reigning champions Team Wellington have arrived in Port Vila for the beginning of their OFC Champions League 2019 journey with a steely determination of replicating their triumphant campaign from last year.
Drawn into Group C, alongside Vanuatu’s National Super League grand final champions Erakor Golden Star, Samoa National League champions and Qualifying tournament runners-up Kiwi FC, Team Wellington will kick of their title defence with Saturday’s group opener against Fiji Premier League runners-up Ba FC at Port Vila’s Korman Stadium.
Following their arrival at Bauerfield International Airport, Jose Figueira’s troops from the New Zealand capital could not hide their excitement about the task ahead of them.
“We are pleased with our preparation, obviously we had a tough league game back in Christchurch on the weekend and a bit more travel, but we are very happy to be here in Vanuatu.
“The boys are excited, it’s the first time we are here in Vanuatu as a team and being somewhere new brings some excitement, the boys are ready to go,” explained the Team Wellington coach.
After three consecutive near misses to finish runners-up behind their New Zealand rivals Auckland City FC, Team Wellington well and truly shook the monkey of their back last year to secure their maiden regional crown to the delight of their fans.
On the back of their breakthrough season in Oceania’s premier club competition and an impressive first ever appearance at the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup, the New Zealanders are fully focused on maintaining their regional supremacy.
Despite his players’ eagerness and quite confidence that comes from success, Jose Figueira is keen to keep a lid on expectations by insisting his side will stick to the basics and will approach the tournament by focusing on one match at the time.
“Yeah, naturally, we are defending the title, of course we have to take things one step at the time and one game at the time, like we did last year.
“The aim is the same as it was last year and the previous years, we want to win all our games and we want to win all the game and we want to win the competition, but just like last year we will have to focus first on Ba, on our first game, which will be difficult challenge and go from there,” added the Team Wellington coach.