Central Leader : April 22nd 2011
12 CENTRAL LEADER, APRIL 22, 2011 SPORT Jumping clear: Auckland's Manel Exposito jumps clear of Amicale keeper Chickau Mansale in the O-League final at Kiwitea St on Saturday. Photos: SHANE WENZLICK Getting jumpy OFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GRAND FINAL Intense final: Auckland's Albert Vidal maintains control of the ball. Stretching out: Amicale's Fenedy Masauvakalo beats Auckland's Angel Berlanga to the ball. Celebration: Auckland's Daniel Koprivicic, left, and Ivan Vicelich celebrate with the OFC Champions League trophy. By JEREMY RUANE Auckland City cemented their status as the leading club in the Oceania Football Confederation last weekend as they became the first team to qualify for the 2011 Fifa Club World Cup Finals in Japan later this year. They overcame gallant Vanuatu champions Amicale FC 4-0 at Kiwitea St in the second leg of the OFC Champions League grand final to secure a 6-1 victory over their Pacific Island rivals and win the O-League for the third time in six seasons. In doing so, they have earned the game in New Zealand a much- needed $US 500,000 -- a portion of which goes to each of the other teams in the ASB Premiership. New Zealand Football and City each keep about a third of the winnings which, in the champion s case, are earmarked for off-setting the majority of the costs they will incur in preparing for December s world finals. With Amicale needing to score to have any chance of winning the final, given they were trailing from the first leg in Port Vila, the visitors put City under pressure early on. But once the home team had seen off the best their opponents could throw at them, they hit back in spectacular fashion. Alex Feneridis stunning 27th minute volley ranks as one of the great goals to be scored at a ground which has seen its fair share of fine strikes during the last two decades. To the delight of the bulk of the 3000 spectators present at Kiwitea St, it dealt a fatal blow to Amicale s hopes of upsetting the odds. Three second-half goals con- firmed City s place in the record books. O-League player of the tour- nament, Daniel Koprivcic, potted a penalty to make it 2-0 just after the hour mark, following a foul on Ian Hogg just inside the area. Manel Exposito maintained his impressive scoring record when hammering home a third goal 17 minutes from time, and substitute Adam McGeorge applied the coup de grace with eight minutes remain- ing. The other club world cup conten- ders are not yet known, although one of City s potential opponents, should they progress beyond the qualifying match against Japan s J-League champions into the last six, will be known after Easter. American side Real Salt Lake and Monterrey from Mexico will contest both legs of their region s cham- pions league final before the end of April. And the winner of the Uefa Champions League semifinal between Barcelona and Real Madrid will be a short-priced favourite to grace the Fifa Club World Cup finals in December. The African, Asian and South American competitions are still progressing through the qualifying stages. The prospects of Hyundai A-League teams Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC joining Auckland in Japan late this year already look remote at best.
April 20th 2011
April 27th 2011