Vanuatu put faith in youth

Several up-and-coming stars are the main feature of a 24-man squad named by Vanuatu coach Saby Natonga for the Pacific Games, which kick off later this month in New Caledonia.

Selonie Iaruel has had a rapid rise to the Vanuatu national team.

Yvong August and Kensi Tangis, both 19, have been included after scoring Vanuatu's goals in the 2-0 friendly win over Solomon Islands in Port Vila last weekend while 17-year-old Jean Kaltack, who made his debut in that morale-boosting victory, has also been selected after an impressive performance.

They are joined in the line-up by fellow youngsters Selonie Iaruel, just 16, Eddison Stephen and Brian Kaltack, who all took part in Vanuatu's bronze-winning campaign at the OFC U-20 Championship in Auckland during April.

Natonga had little option other than to call up some of the country's young players after being robbed of the service of many more experienced campaigners for various reasons. Amicale pair Derek Malas and Fenedy Masauvakalo, and Tafea trio Fredy Vava, Jeffery Gete and Francois Sakama are all unavailable, as is New Zealand-based Seule Soromon.

The latter, who plays his club football for North Island team Wairarapa United, would have been a major asset in New Caledonia as he is in good form after helping his side to the semi-finals of the Chatham Cup, New Zealand's premier cup competition.

Masauvakalo, the 2011 O-League top scorer, is another big loss and Natonga will be hoping one of his youngsters can step up to score the goals the striker would likely have notched during the Games.

Vanuatu have been drawn in Group A of the event alongside hosts New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Guam, American Samoa and Tuvalu.

Vanuatu squad for XIV Pacific Games

Ernest Bong (Amicale)
Joel Kapen (Amicale)
Selonie Iaruel (Academy)

Alphonse Bongnaim (Amicale)
Selwyn Sese Aala (Amicale)
Andrew Chichirua (Tafea)
Meren Tamba (Siaraga FC Santo)
Filiamy Nikiau (Spirit 08)
Rexly Tarivuti (Spirit 08)
Mike Nakapue (Tanna)
Tari Rickson (Spirit 08)
Brian Kaltack (New Zealand)

Robert Yelou (Amicale)
Saimata Chilia (Amicale)
Michel Kaltak (Tafea)
Kempes Vaharu (Pango Green Bird)
William Winston (Malekula)
Stephen Eddison (Academy)
Richard Garae (Amicale)

Kensi Tangis (Milo FC Santo)
Robert Tasso (Spirit 08)
Jean Kaltak (Academy)
Yvong August (Academy)
Michel Daniel (Shepherds United)

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Updated On Wednesday, August 03, 2011