BY ROMULUS HUTA
SOLOMON Islands Oceania Champions League representative Marist will depart Honiara on Friday.
Marist will travel to Fiji to take on Lautoka FC in the first leg of the Oceania Champions League semifinals set for Sunday afternoon at Churchill Park.
A team of 15 playing members and five officials were named for the tour but names will not be released until Friday this week due to other reasons, according to the club’s media officer Muma WongSasa.
WongSasa confirmed that some of their key players are nursing injuries at the moment and the club management is hoping for their quick recovery ahead of Sunday’s clash.
Key defender Koriak Upaiga is also in Papua New Guinea (PNG) at the moment and he will join the team prior to Sunday’s contest.
Marist qualified into the two-legged semi-final tie against Lautoka following a 2-1 quarterfinal win over Vanuatu champions Nalkutan at the Korman Stadium in Port Vila the previous weekend.
Goals from aging striker Abraham Iniga and Davidson Tome sealed a much-deserved qualification passage for the Jerry Allen-coached side to a debut last-four appearance.
For Lautoka, who boasts the inclusion of sensational Solomon Islands forward Benjamin Totori in its roster got their place in the semis after posting a 2-1 away quarterfinal win against AS Dragon at Stade Pater in Papeete the previous Sunday.
The Fijian side outplayed AS Dragon to claim their place in the semi-final for the first time in the club’s history.
The return leg will be played in Honiara on Sunday April 29 at the Lawson Tama Stadium.
Meanwhile, the other semifinal features Team Wellington and Auckland City in an all-New Zealand affair, ruling out the opportunity for a repeat of the final for the three previous editions.
Team Wellington hosts the first leg taking on domestic champions Auckland City, who took out the domestic Premiership grand final between the two sides with a 1-0 victory on April 1, at Dave Farrington Park on Sunday 22 April at 1pm.
As mentioned, the two teams have met in the final of the last three editions of the OFC Champions League with Auckland yet to drop a match to their domestic counterparts in this competition to date.
Auckland City will host the return leg at Kiwitea Street on Sunday 29 April from 12.30pm.