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NZ football sides receive OFC draw

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 24/08/2016

A file photo of Auckland City's Ryan De Vries (L) competing with Team Wellington's Anthony Hobbs (R) during the ASB Premiership Grand Final match. © Michael Bradley/Getty Images A file photo of Auckland City's Ryan De Vries (L) competing with Team Wellington's Anthony Hobbs (R) during the ASB Premiership Grand Final match. Defending Oceanian champions Auckland City will play sides from Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands after being placed in Group C of the newly expanded OFC Champions League.

Auckland City, gunning for their ninth continental title, have been drawn against PNG's Lae City Dwellers, who are playing in the competition for the second consecutive year.

They will also face the yet-to-be-confirmed league champions of Vanuatu and runners-up of the Solomon Islands.

Oceania's premier football competition has been expanded from 12 to 16 teams in 2017, with the four groups to be contested at four different venues.

The group winners will then take part in home-and-away semi finals, followed by a two-legged final.

"Any draw we've received in the Champions League is quite tough and there's no exception here," said an Auckland City spokesman.

"There's a feeling of respect for all of those teams, it's not an easy tournament to win."

Meanwhile, ASB Premiership champions Team Wellington were drawn in Group B alongside New Caledonia's Hienghene Sport, as well as the yet-to-be-confirmed Fijian league champions.

A fourth side will be added to Group B from the OFC Champions League's qualifying stage.

The winner of the Champions League qualifies for the FIFA Club World Cup in December each year.

OFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUPS:

Group A:

AS Magenta (New Caledonia)

Hekari United (PNG)

AS Central United (Tahiti)

Qualifying Stage Runner-Up, TBD

Group B:

Team Wellington (NZ)

Fiji Winner, TBD

Hienghene Sport (New Caledonia)

Qualifying Stage Winner, TBD

Group C:

Auckland City FC (NZ)

Vanuatu Winner, TBD

Lae City Dwellers (PNG)

Solomon Islands Runner-Up, TBD

Group D:

AS Tefana (Tahiti)

Solomon Islands Winner, TBD

Fiji Runner-Up, TBD

Vanuatu Runner-Up, TBD

Qualifying Stage:

1. Cook Islands Winner (Cook Islands)

2. Utulei Youth FC (American Samoa)

3. Lupe Ole Soaga (Samoa)

4. Veitongo FC (Tonga)

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