Currently sitting in third place with a loss and a draw Ba must defeat Samoa’s Kiwi FC by a healthy margin in Friday’s opening game in order to leapfrog Erakor in the standings, before the hosts take on the table topping team Wellington to conclude proceedings in Vanuatu.
Following a narrow 2-nil defeta to Team Wellington and a dramatic come-from-behind draw with Erakor Golden Star, the Men in Black from Fiji will fancy their chances against Kiwi FC anchored to the bottom of the group without a point.
Ba showed plenty of character in both of their previous matches to provide a stern test to Wellington before holding their nerves to overcome a 1-nil half-time deficit as well as negotiating two penalties to frustrate Erakor in securing a vital share of the points in their second outing.
On the other hand, Kiwi FC failed to build on their promising start against Erakor which saw them competing with the hosts for most of the match before conceding twice in the last half hour, to be taught a footballing lesson by a rampant Team Wellington side putting 13 past them on Match Day 2.
Ba FC coach Ronil Kumar says the first objective for his side is to win and win well to improve their goal difference in case they end up with the same points as Erakor.
However, he is also aware the destiny is not in their own hands and they will need to rely on Wellington defeating Erakor if they want to secure second spot and a place in the final eight of the competition.
“Yes, we need a favour from Wellington but we can only focus on our game plan to win and score goals to improve our goal difference and get above of Erakor before they play Wellington in their final match,” explained Kumar.
“If Erakor can beat or draw with a great side like Wellington we can only wish good luck to them.
“I’m confident we will do our part and then we just have to wait and see what happens in the other game,” added the Ba FC coach.
Meanwhile, Martin Tamasese in charge of Kiwi FC insists his young side will bounce back from their humiliating loss to Team Wellington.
With their pride on the line the Samoans will be eager to prove that their poor performance against the defending champions was not a true reflection of their ability.
“We just have to forget that second game and focus on our next one against Ba.
“Our aim is to win our last game and I told the boys we all have put in 100 per cent to show that the result against Wellington is not us,” said Tamasese.
Erakor Golden Star will be watching the match between Kiwi and Ba with great interest in order to find out exactly what they need to do against Team Wellington in the last match of the tournament.
However, the hosts will be prepared for the worst case scenario which will ask them to at least secure a draw against the group favourites.
Following a nervy 2-0 win over Kiwi FC in their opener, the hosts seemingly succumbed to the mounting pressure against Ba failing to hold on to their lead and missing two golden chances from the penalty spot to the frustration of their fans at Korman stadium.
Another big and passionate crowd is expected to turn up on Friday to cheer on the local hopefuls and Erakor coach Benjamin Noel is adamant his players are determined to reward their faithful supporters.
“It will be a very tough challenge, Wellington is one of the best teams in Oceania, they are the champions, but it’s not all lost,” Noel said.
“We want to win our last game but a draw against them would be enough to qualify.
“It will not be easy, we will have to work hard on our finishing we will need to take any chancec we get, the Erakor coach added.
Defending champions Team Wellington are still very much on track for their title defence with two wins from two matches, but they still have a bit of work to do to secure top spot in the group which comes with home ground advantage in the next stage.
Jose Figueira’s men will need at least a draw against Erakor to guarantee them hosting rights in the next phase and the Team Wellington coach is adamant his players will settle for nothing less.
“Yes, we have already qualified but our next goal is to cement top spot in the group and try to get that home quarterfinal,” he said.
“In this competition with the travel, different conditions and climate home advantage is very important so we want to play at back in Wellington.
“Looking forward to the final game, we expect a big and passionate crowd supporting them and I hope the team will put in another professional performance,” Figueira added.