Hosts emerge as title challengers

The headline encounter between the hosts and the Futsal Whites will close out this evening’s proceedings, but not before Vanuatu takes on Malaysia in a match up that both sides need to win.
Vanuatu opened their tournament strong with a surprising 4-1 victory over Tahiti, but have spiralled to a 5-1 and 6-2 defeats at the hands of
New Zealand and New Caledonia respectively.
Coach Louis Dominique wants to turn the slump around as he aims to finish the competition in the best position possible, and one that best reflects the progress, effort and skill his side has put into each of their matches.
“Malaysia is very strong, very strong. We will try and win this match to get the best position in the standings that we can,” Dominique says.
“We need to win. We need to defend and concede fewer goals, but also score more goals.”
It’s a hard task for the side that is playing their fourth match in a row of this competition as the fatigue starts to set in. They will also be without the services of the ever-reliable Donald Avock, who is suspended for
Match Day 4 after picking up his second yellow card of the competition
against New Caledonia.
For the guests from the Asian Football Confederation the path to Match Day 4 has been a different story to that of Vanuatu’s.
Expected to dominate all the Oceania teams, the 2013 runners-up were left in shock as New Zealand ran to a 4-1 victory in the opening match. Malaysia had looked listless and far from on form, something that coach Maizal Marzuki was confident they could shake.
His confidence paid off as his side barrelled to a 5-2 win against Tahiti with an animated performance in which Shamsul Zamri, Qaiser Kadir and goalkeeper Firdaus Razali shone. However while Marzuki was assured by the renewed life in his charges, he says there are still things they need to work on to maintain this momentum.
“I hope my boys will play well against Vanuatu. We’re going to train more on how to finish in the morning,” he says. “I think my team plays well but sometimes they cannot take the ball inside the goal. I hope we will train as we intend to play against Vanuatu.”
The day’s marquee encounter between the New Caledonia and the current leaders New Zealand is set to attract a record crowd, especially as today is a public holiday in the host nation.
New Zealand have seemingly breezed through the tournament thus far recording an opening 4-1 drubbing of Malaysia before beating Vanuatu 5-1 on day two. At the heart of their success is captain Marvin Eakins who’s calming influence in defence has made all the difference.
What will be different for the Futsal Whites this evening is they take to the court without head coach Scott Gilligan in command of the bench. Gilligan has to return to Australia, leaving deputy Felipe di Marchi Bernadi in charge, but with the side expected to crack on as they have previously his absence is expected to make little difference to their approach.
“We won’t do anything different to what we’ve already done,” Gilligan says. “New Caledonia have obviously got hometown support, probably their opening game was the best I’ve seen them play to be honest.
“But it’s not going to be all that different for us. We’ll defend as a compact unit like we have been doing, and counter when we can. The defensive structure that we’ve put in place certainly has us in good stead.”
With six points going into day four, New Zealand lead the standings by two points and all eyes will be on young Jan Fischer to add to his growing tally of goals as he tussles to take the lead in the goal scoring standings.
But he’s being challenged closely by New Caledonia’s Eric Saihuliwa who also has three goals to his name and a longing to convert a few more before the tournament is out. The captain’s on both sides – Marvin Eakins for New Zealand and Ivann Pourouoro for New Caledonia – have two goals apiece after two matches and will also be looking to challenge for the top goal scorer title.
Back from his suspension will be coach William Brett who was visibly pleased to see his side run out to a 6-2 victory over Vanuatu. But with New Zealand well rested after their bye on Match Day 3, he will have to approach this encounter with an element of caution if he is to achieve his objective of the best possible finish on home soil.
Assistant coach Steeve Laigle says with nothing to lose, his side will be pouring their hearts and souls onto the court to win over the home crowd with a second consecutive victory.
“Last year we were last in the tournament and we want to leave that piece of history behind us,” he explains. “Against New Zealand this evening we’re going to do everything that we can to win and to get the best result possible.”
Tahiti have a bye but will return to action on Match Day 5.
Extra Information:
OFC Futsal Championship Invitational – MATCH DAY 4 PREVIEW
This is the official preview of Match Day 4. Please note squads are subject to change.

Vanuatu v Malaysia
18h local time, Friday 15 August
Arène du Sud
Paita, New Calédonia

Match officials:
Referee: Chris SINCLAIR [NZL]
Second Referee: Kamendra NAIDU [FIJ]
Third Referee: Daniel KAUSUO [NCL]
Timekeeper: Stephane UPA [NCL]

Vanuatu: 1. Glendon MASAI (GK), 2. Terry MALAPA, 3. Ricky TUIGALOA, 4. Dudley DOMINIQUE, 5. Jacky JOHN, 6. Joseph HANGHANGKON, 7. Ben HUNGAI, 8. Pakoa JEREMY, 10. Albert THO, 11. George MAHIT, 12. Ivano PHILIP (GK)
Suspended: 9. Donald AVOCK
Coach: Louis DOMINIQUE [VAN]
Malaysia: 1. Firdaus RAZALI (GK) (c), 4. Shamsul ZAMRI, 5. Fitri YATIM, 6. Fariq MOHAMMAD, 9. Qaiser KADIR, 10. Shahmi SANI, 15. Aula AHMAD, 7. Ridzwan BAKRI, 13. Nizam ALI, 14. Rahimi SHATAR (GK), 16. Firdaus AMBIAH, 20. Faris AHMAD (GK)
Coach: Maizal MARZUKI [MAS]
New Caledonia v New Zealand
20h local time, Friday 15 August
Arène du Sud
Paita, New Calédonia

Match officials:
Referee: Jainut DEAN [FIJ]
Second Referee: Love Lui MELENARAVE [VAN]
Third Referee: Rex KAMUSU [SOL]
Timekeeper: Francis Loxie RONI [SOL]
New Caledonia: 1. Ronan EUZEN (GK), 2. Eric SAIHULIWA, 3. Jess POUARAIROUA, 4. Ivan POUROURORO, 5. Loic CAUNES, 6. Mainon KAOUWI, 7. Romain GUITTON, 8. Anderson PAULIN, 9. Ivannoe BAMY, 10. Ludovic BOIT, 11. Malick PAULET, 20. Ronald GAYON (GK)
Coach: William BRETT [NCL]
New Zealand: 1. Atta ELAYYAN (GK), 3. Dylan MANICKUM, 6. Kareem OSMAN, 7. Marvin EAKINS, 8. Daniel BURNS, 9. Jakub SINKORA, 10. Jan FISCHER, 11. Lucas CORDEIRO OSORIO DA SILVA, 12. Mohamed Hicham KAMRI, 14. James VAUGHAN, 15. Ouadhah RAGUED, 18. Elias BILLEH (GK)
Assistant coach: Felipe DI MARCHI BERNADI [BRA]

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