The newly-expanded 2010 O-League featuring the champion clubs of Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tahiti and Vanuatu is set to get underway this weekend.Now in its fourth season, the O-League has grown from six to eight teams reflecting the rising popularity of the competition and enabling more OFC member associations to take part.
OFC President, Reynald Temarii believes the expansion, which was approved by the OFC Executive Committee in June, will help to lift the overall standards in Oceania.
"Building a strong club competition is a crucial component in our region's development and will only help to improve the standards of quality and technical skill both on and off the field," said President Temarii.
The 2010 O-League has been split into two groups of four teams and will follow a league system where each club plays one home and one away match against each of the other clubs in the same group. The highest ranked Group A side and the highest ranked Goup B side will then advance to a two-legged final stage to decide Oceania's representative at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2010.
In action for Group A this weekend will be defending champions Auckland City FC taking on Tahiti's AS Manu Ura at Kiwitea Street in Auckland on Saturday. Meanwhile cross-town rivals Waitakere United, who won the O-League in 2007 and 2008, will have to wait until 24 October to get their 2010 campaign underway when they visit Noumea to play AS Magenta in the other Group A match.
In Group B, Hekari United FC (PNG) will play away against Tafea FC at Municipal Stadium in Port Vila on Saturday while Marist FC host Fiji club Lautoka at Honiara's Lawson Tama Stadium the following day.
OFC General Secretary Tai Nicholas says the 2010 season is expected to be as intriguing as ever.
"With a total of 26 matches culminating in a home-and-away final in April/May 2010, this season's O-League promises to throw up many twists and turns."
The OFC Club Championships started in 1999 and became known as the O-League in 2007 when the competition adopted a home-and-away format. Auckland City FC won the inaugural O-League and followed that up with victory last year over Solomon Island club Koloale FC in the final.
Auckland will represent Oceania at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2009 in December alongside the five other continental club champions and hosts UAE.
Source: Oceania Football Confederation Press Release