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The teams bound for OFC semis

New Caledonia’s Hienghène Sport have stunned Rewa FC in Group B of the OFC Champions League 2022, beating the Fijian side 2-0 to qualify for the semi-finals.

New Zealand’s Auckland City overcame a first-half scare to beat the Cook Islands’ Nikao Sokattak 4-1 to make it three wins from three in Group B.

While many were expecting Auckland to have a walk over, the Cook Islanders came into the game with nothing to lose and played the match like it was a final.

Here are the match reports:

Hienghène Sport v Rewa FC

The most recent champions of Oceania have booked a final four date with Tahiti’s AS Vénus after Fonzy Ranchain’s free-kick and Joseph Athale’s header secured their qualification at Rewa’s expense.

Both teams entered the game knowing their continued participation in the competition was on the line, with Rewa simply needing to avoid defeat to progress and Hienghène chasing a win.

With that in mind the game began with urgency, Rewa testing Jacques Nyikeine within the opening minute, the Hienghène goalkeeper recovering well to deny Abbu Zahid.

Hienghène Sport and Rewa FC tussle for possession. Picture – OFC

Zahid then had two golden opportunities to open the scoring, mishitting an effort inside the six-yard box before seeing a tame finish well saved by the feet of Nyikeine, skying over the rebound as Rewa looked dangerous early on.

Hienghène fought their way back into the game, Bertrand Kai and Ranchain forcing Mohammed Alam into business before Kai had the best attempt of the opening period, smashing his strike off the post just before the break.

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To have any chance of reclaiming the title they won in 2019 Hienghène needed a win and just after the hour mark they moved into the lead.

Ranchain’s free-kick from the edge of the box wrongfooted Alam in the Rewa goal, who could only parry his powerful strike into the back of his own net.

New Caledonia’s Hienghène Sport have stunned Rewa FC in Group B of the OFC Champions League 2022, beating the Fijian side 2-0 to qualify for the semi-finals. Picture – OFC

Rewa were on the verge of a first round exit and their challenge became even more difficult ten minutes later when Athale flicked on Ranchain’s free-kick delivery to stretch Hienghène’s advantage to two goals.

Alam then kept Rewa in the game with a sprawling save to deny Ranchain and despite Rewa’s best efforts Hienghène advanced to take on AS Vénus in the semi-finals.

Auckland City v Nikao

Nikao’s Stephen Willis’ goal briefly threatened an upset before a brace from Gerard Garriga, topped up by goals for Joe Lee and Matt Ellis ensured top spot and a meeting with Central Coast FC of the Solomon Islands in Sunday’s semi-final.

As expected the New Zealanders peppered the Nikao Sokattak goal with shots in the opening period, the Cook Islands side happy to put 11 players behind the ball and hold out for an upset.

Emiliano Tade hit the post, among several chances for the Argentine striker, while Christian Gray, Garriga and Mario Ilich also came close before Nikao scored a goal to make their journey to New Zealand worthwhile.

Grover Harmon’s initial corner-kick delivery was cleared but persistence from Julius David allowed captain Willis the chance to fire home a memorable opener.

Auckland City on the attack against Nikao Sokattek. Picture – OFC

Unfortunately for the Cook Islands side their lead was short-lived. The tournament favourites equalised almost immediately, Garriga hitting a rasping half-volley beyond the despairing Tahiri Elikana.

Auckland City put any hopes of Nikao staging an incredible comeback to bed early in the second-half. First, Garriga fired home his second after latching on to Ilich’s through ball before Lee added a third from close-range.

How high can you go. Auckland City and Nikao battle for aerial possession. Picture – OFC

Ellis made it 4-1, putting the finishing touch on a slick passing move from the nine-time champions.

Nikao goalkeeper Elikana kept the score at four with a couple of fine saves late on but Auckland City continued their clean sweep into the final four while Nikao Sokattak exited with their heads held high.

Source: OFC

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