Despite being undoubtedly one of the best players in Vanuatu, the Amicale captain was not part of the team that competed in the XIV Pacific Games, which took place in New Caledonia during August and September.
Masauvakalo and a host of other experienced campaigners decided to make themselves unavailable for the event, leaving coach Saby Natonga with no option but to take a youthful line-up to Noumea.
The Vanuatu Football Federation (VFF) has reacted to this by suspending the nine players in question from all international matches until further notice.
But, after leading Amicale to a 2-0 triumph over Spirit 08 in the opening round of the TVL Championship, Masauvakalo told local media that he would be happy to return to the national team set up for the Nations Cup, to be held in Fiji next June.
“This time I will certainly join the team – that is if our officials want me back,” he said.
The 2011 O-League Golden Boot added that he knew football fans throughout the country were disappointed about his refusal to play and that he felt sorry for letting them down.
But he said he had personal reasons for withdrawing from the squad and that the Pacific Games are now in the past. He is keen to focus instead on the upcoming action.
“I am ready and, anytime they want me back, I will certainly step forward.”
If included in the squad, the availability of Masauvakalo will be a major boost to the national side, which showed plenty of promise in winning four of its five group matches at the Games but narrowly missed out on a place in the semi-finals.
The goals of the Amicale hitman may have made all the difference as Vanuatu were only denied a spot in the final four after being pipped on goal differential by eventual champions New Caledonia and runners-up Solomon Islands.
They will face both of those countries again in the Nations Cup and will also be joined by Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Tahiti and the winner of the preliminary stage (which features American Samoa, Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga).
The tournament will be based on a league system with semi-finals and a final and the winner will go on to represent OFC in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.
The four highest-placed teams from the Nations Cup will then contest stage three of the qualifiers – a round-robin, home-and-away play-off series. The matches are foreseen to take place between 7 September 2012 and 26 March 2013 in FIFA windows.
The winner of the third stage will advance to the inter-continental play-off for a place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.
OFC’s top qualifier will square off against the fourth best side from CONCACAF – the North America, Central America and Caribbean federation – in a change from the previous pathway when they faced Asia’s fifth best.
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