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Wai United players clash in O-League deciders

Hamish Watson on the ball for the Phoenix. Photo/Getty Images

FOOTBALL
GARY CAFFELL

Wairarapa United will have a say in the result of the Oceania Champions League football final over the next two weekends no matter who wins.

Team Wellington and Fiji-based Lautoka meet in the competition decider, the first leg of which will be played at David Farrington Park, in Wellington on Sunday [kickoff 2pm], and the second at Churchill Park, Lautoka a week later.

Both teams seem certain to have Wairarapa United players in their line-ups.

Striker Hamish Watson, who is about to return to the Wairarapa United Central League squad after a stint with Wellington Phoenix in the A-League, is part of the Team Wellington squad.

Cory Chettleburgh, lining up for Lautoka. PHOTO/FILE

And the Lautoka starting line-up is likely to include two “imports”, Cory Chettleburgh and Brian Kaltak, both of whom were regulars in the Wairarapa United side which were runners-up in last year’s Central League and who will also return to the fold after their O-League commitments are ended.

Chettleburgh, a New Zealand age group rep and Kaltak, a Vanuatu international, have already played a significant role in Lautoka’s passage to the final – Chettleburgh sending in a corner kick from which Kaltak headed home the winning goal to give their side a last-minute 2-1 win over AS Dragons in one of the crucial qualifying games.

With Kiwi teams – and more particularly Auckland City – having made a habit of winning the O-League, Team Wellington will start warm favourites to earn the right to represent Oceania at the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

However, Fijian national coach, Christophe Garnel, who is assisting Lautoka coach Kamal Swamy with his side’s preparation, is taking a very different stance.

“It is difficult to beat Wellington, but anything is possible,” he said. “The players are responding well to the training and we need to maintain the consistency we started from the pool games.”

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