The feat creates a piece of history for the club as it has never appeared in the final of Oceania’s premier club competition before and will become the first outfit from Tahiti to have a crack at the title since Pirae finished runners-up in the 2006 edition of the OFC Club Championship, the competition that preceded the O-League.
A double from Angelo Tchen and further strikes to Taufa Neuffer and Alvin Tehau put Tefana well in control before substitute Axel Williams rounded off the win with a few minutes remaining to leave coach Laurent Heinis a very happy man.
“To have reached the final is a great moment for the club but getting there is not enough, we now have to win that too,” Heinis said.
“The first 20 minutes were difficult as Ba wanted to score early. But luckily they missed the chances and we managed to score ours. We scored first and after that we stayed well organised.”
Making the final is an impressive achievement for Tefana given they suffered a humiliating 10-0 defeat away to Waitakere United on the opening day – a result they bounced back from with an unbeaten run at home.
“It was a hard time for everyone at the club after that match and we felt ashamed when we got back to Tahiti. But we have turned things around by drawing against Mont-Dore in New Caledonia and having some good results at home.”
Today’s Group A clash was the final pool game to be played in the 2012 O-League and was originally scheduled to take place in conjunction with the other last round fixtures on March 31. But extensive flooding across Fiji caused the game to be postponed twice and, due to the ongoing effects of the natural disaster, it was therefore rearranged to be held in New Zealand.
While Ba were no longer playing on their own turf, the encounter still very much had the feel of a home game for the Men in Black as Auckland has a strong Fijian community and they turned out in large numbers to cheer their charges on. Only a massive win for Ba would have put them into the final – Waitakere United, the other side in the running, had a vastly superior goal difference – and that prospect began to look unlikely as Tchen got his head to a corner from captain Tetiamana Marmouyet in the 36th minute and Ba goalkeeper Jone Ralulu could only palm it into the net.
The task got even tougher just before the break when Tchen prodded an intended shot from Heimano Bourebare past Ralulu and any hopes of a comeback were dashed in the second spell as Tefana took control of the tie.
Ba had several chances of their own in the first half – Jone Salauneune and Malakai Tiwa could have put them ahead early on but both struck the post – and were made to rue those misses in the second spell.
The result was virtually beyond doubt by the 53rd minute when Neuffer extended the lead before Tehau and Williams struck in the 74th and 86th minutes respectively to take Tefana to the final in style.
Ba coach Yogendra Dutt was disappointed to finish with a loss but admitted Tefana were deserving of their win.
“We are feeling pretty low but we lost to a good team,” he said. “We had several opportunities to score before they did in the first half and if a goal had come then things could have been different.”
Defending champions Auckland and final debutants Tefana will now meet each other over two legs, home and away, in the fight for the O-League trophy and the coveted place at the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup that comes with it.