The groups for the 16th edition of Oceania Football Confederation’s premier international club competition have been confirmed following the 2018 OFC Champions League Official Draw held at OFC Headquarters in Auckland, New Zealand, yesterday morning.
Taking top position in Group A is Papua New Guinea champions Lae City Dwellers who will be making their third-consecutive appearance in the competition.
Joining them are competition debutants Nalkutan FC, who claimed Vanuatu’s top berth after winning the VFF National Super League then defeating Port Vila Football League champions Erakor Golden Star FC in their play-off.
Fiji Vodafone Premier League runners-up Ba FC and the winner from the Qualifying Stage of the OFC Champions League were also drawn in Group A.
The make-up of Group B includes the winner of Solomon Islands’ Telekom S-League, Tahiti Ligue 1 VINI winners AS Dragon, New Caledonia Super Ligue runner-up AS Lossi and Erakor Golden Star FC.
In Group C the defending and eight-time champions Auckland City FC have drawn Fiji Vodafone Premier League winners Lautoka FC, Papua New Guinea runner-up Madang FC and AS Venus from Tahiti.
Drawn first for Group D, New Zealand Premiership winner and three-time OFC Champions League runner-up Team Wellington will meet their 2016 and 2017 OFC Champions League semi-final opponent AS Magenta in the group stage after the New Caledonia champions were drawn in second position.
The runner-up from the Qualifying Stage and the second-place team from Solomon Islands have also been drawn in Group D.
The draw for the Qualifying Stage of the OFC Champions League 2018 also took place at the OFC Headquarters this morning, positioning American Samoa champions and Qualifying Stage hosts Pago Youth FC in the top position, followed by the national league winners from Cook Islands, Samoa then Tonga.
The 2018 edition will introduce a quarter-final stage, expanding the competition to five stages which will be played at different venues across Oceania and see 18 teams battle for qualification to the FIFA Club World Cup.
The champions of American Samoa, Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga will open the competition calendar in 2018 when they meet for the Qualifying Stage held in American Samoa from 20-26 January.
Each group in the OFC Champions League will meet at their hosts’ venue to play each other once over three match days with two rest days between games. The three match days for Group A and Group B will be played between 10-18 February. Group C and Group D’s encounters will follow from 24 February to 4 March.
The draw to determine the quarter-final and semi-final matches will be held after the completion of the Group Stage.