BY ROMULUS HUTA
NEW Zealand representative Team Wellington has landed in Honiara yesterday afternoon ahead of the Oceania Champions League Group D competition that will get underway this weekend at Lawson Tama Stadium.
A team of 17 playing members and seven officials made the long trip from Wellington to Honiara via Brisbane yesterday.
Travelling members include four foreign imports and they are New Caledonia’s Roy Kayara, Ross Allen (England), Mario Barcia (Argentina) and Eric Molloy of Ireland.
The team is currently residing at the Pacific Casino Hotel.
Upon arrival yesterday, the team headed on straight to their first training session.
Buoyed by a 4-1 win over Waitakere in the New Zealand domestic ISPS Handa Premiership last weekend, Team Wellington will be one of the contenders in the race for the two quarterfinal spots allocated to Group D.
Team Wellington will open their Oceania Champions League campaign against hosts Marist 4pm this Saturday at Lawson Tama.
Their second match is against Lupe Ole Soaga on February 27 while their final match is set for March 2 against AS Magenta.
Team Wellington has reached the grandfinal of the Oceania Champions League for the past three seasons and only to be beaten by close rival Auckland City in all occasions.
The mission that they will begin in Honiara tomorrow afternoon is basically about going after an unfinished business.
Team Wellington Coach José Figueria said they are pleased to be here in the Solomon Islands for the Oceania Champions league.
“We’re excited to be here.
“The Champions League is always an exciting thing to be part of.
“Last year we’re in New Caledonia and now we have come to the Solomon Islands and the players are looking forward to the challenge,” Figueria said.
Apart from their group competition matches, the weather here comes as another challenge to Figueria and his boys.
The Englishman stressed that when they left Wellington yesterday morning it was raining and here it’s quite different.
“We’ll take a couple of days to get use to the weather. Here it’s hot.
“In Wellington when we left today (yesterday), it’s raining. Here it’s much hotter, so we have to make sure that we try and get used to it (weather) as soon as possible.”
Team Wellington Oceania Champions League Travelling Squad
- Scott Basalaj (GK), 2. Justin Gulley (C), 3. Scott Hilliar, 4. Mario Ilich, 5. Liam Wood, 6. Taylor Schrijvers, 7. Eric Molloy (Foreign Player), 8. Tiahn Manuel, 10. Nathanael Hailemariam, 11. Mario Barcia (Foreign Player), 13. Roy Kayara (Oceania Player, 14. Jack-Henry Sinclair, 16. Angus Kilkolly, 19. Ross Allen (Foreign Player), 20. Daniel Mulholland, 21. Hamish Watson, 22. Marcel Kampman (RGK)
General Manager – Peter Becker
Head Coach – José Figueria
Assistant Coach – Scott Hales
Team Manager – Stuart Widdowson
Sports Scientist – James Mac Aodhagain
Physio – Sarah Dunn & Alistair Basalaj
Media & Communications – Courtney Marsden