May 20, 2018
Team Wellington won its first ever OFC Champions League title today at Churchill Park after edging Lautoka 4-3 in the second leg of the grand finale and winning 10-3 on aggregate.
The hosts despite losing 6-0 in the first leg and having a very slim chance played to the best of their abilities and did not disappoint their loyal fans who made up the small turnout.
Coach Kamal Swamy had to start policeman Senirusi Bokini between the sticks as Captain Beniamino Mateinaqara picked up a shoulder injury.
Sweeper Kolinio Sivoki was handed the captain's armband.
Mohammed Shazil Ali, Edward Justin and Zibraaz Sahib also started the match for the Vodafone sponsored Blues.
Stylish midfielder Mario Ilich punished Lautoka with two perfect strikes in the 10th and 32nd minute as he saw the goalkeeper off his line on both occasions and found the target with his attempts to give the visitors a 2-0 halftime lead.
Ross Allen netted the third goal for Team Wellington from yet another defensive blunder in the 51st minute.
Lautoka struck two minutes later through Solomon Islands import Benjamin Totori who slammed the ball from an acute angle and found the back of the net.
Shazil Ali pulled one more back for the Blues in the 83rd minute after beautifully curling the ball into the top left corner of the net.
And Totori grabbed the equalizer in the 85th minute with another clinical finish.
Just when the Blues were celebrating and pushing forward for their fourth and winning goal of the match, their opponents attacked from the heart of their defence and found Angus Kilkolly in an unmarked position and the lethal striker made no mistake and scored the winner in the 88th minute.
Kilkolly also won the Golden Boot of the competition after netting a total of 8 goals.
New Caledonian defender Roy Kayara who had an outstanding campaign with Team Wellington won the Golden Ball award while the Golden Glove was given to Auckland City stopper Enaut Zubikarai.
Team Wellington will now represent the Oceania region at the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup in December and the club will be given USD $500k to prepare for the event.
By Reginald Chandar