Oceania Football Confederation > News > OFC U-17 Championship 2013 > Teams set for opening day battles

Teams set for opening day battles

Fiji then meet New Caledonia from 12.30pm before Papua New Guinea face hosts Vanuatu at 3.30pm.
The winner of the tournament will qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup, which is set to take place in the United Arab Emirates from October 17 to November 8.

Here’s a look at the action that’s in store across the three matches on the opening day of the OFC U-17 Championship.

New Zealand vs. Cook Islands – 9.30am Wednesday 17 April
This match is shaping up to be the David vs. Goliath battle of the tournament as New Zealand’s Young All Whites are the defending champions and the Cook Islands are most certainly the underdogs after booking their place in Vanuatu through the preliminary tournament. New Zealand coach Darren Bazeley will therefore be viewing his side’s opening fixture as the perfect opportunity to get off to a good start and anything other than a win to the favourites would be a major surprise. The Young All Whites squad boasts several names well known to Pacific football fans in Andre De Jong, Matthew Ridenton – the sons of former All Whites Fred De Jong and Michael Ridenton – and Alex Rufer, the nephew of Oceania player of the century Wynton Rufer. Cook Islands coach Tuka Tisam will look to the New Zealand-based players in his line-up – who include goalkeeper Keegan Inia and striker Maro Bonsu-Maro – to make an impact while the main goalscoring threat is likely to come from captain Pekay Edwards. As there is no knockout stage in this tournament and the winner will be determined on a points basis, the Young All Whites will be keen to find the net as much as possible as goal difference could prove crucial. Bazeley has prepared for the competition by leading a shadow version of his squad through New Zealand’s U-20 national league.
In their own words

“We’re expecting this competition to be more difficult than the preliminary was. We’re coming up against much better teams with more quality players and, as a goalkeeper, I am expecting full on work. I’ve played with a few of the New Zealand boys and I know how they play, their strengths and weaknesses. It’s going to be a huge game and I’m really hoping they don’t score.” – Cook Islands goalkeeper Keegan Inia

“The ASB Youth League was the ideal preparation. It’s given us the opportunity to try different players and formations in competitive matches against older players. The last two campaigns were in Auckland which is better for us, especially in terms of the climate. Playing away is going to be very different for our players and probably like nothing they have experienced.” – New Zealand coach Darren Bazeley

Fiji vs. New Caledonia – 12.30pm Wednesday 17 April
The sports-mad nation of Fiji have been the perennial bridesmaids in many OFC youth tournaments but they have a point to prove at this level after enduring a forgettable campaign at the previous event two years ago. The Fijians managed only one win on that occasion and did not come close to progressing past the group stages. A repeat performance would be deemed hugely unacceptable this time, especially after the country’s U-20 side secured a runners-up placing at the OFC U-20 Championship on home soil last month. Fiji were pipped to first place by New Zealand at that tournament and U-17 coach Kamal Swamy will be aiming to go one better in Vanuatu and finally break New Zealand’s dominance at youth level. He does not have a wealth of experience to draw upon in that quest however as captain Iosefo Verevou is the only returnee from the 2011 squad. New Caledonia are also short in the experience stakes but do possess a player with the potential to be one of the best on show. Midfielder Mickael Partodikromo is learning his trade in New Zealand at the Asia Pacific Football Academy and spent time training in the youth set up of Premier League club Swansea City earlier this year. New Caledonia performed marginally better than Fiji two years ago – winning two of their four matches – but coach Kamali Fitialeata will be asking more of his charges as they chase a top-three finish.
In their own words

“The boys are very eager, they want to go one better than our U-20 team by qualifying for the World Cup. They are participating well in what we are teaching them – the game plans, the tactics and the shape of the team. We have a strong core of players who have been playing together for a long time and I think we have a good chance of doing well.” – Fiji coach Kamal Swamy

“We know the sides we will be faced with will be solid, that’s always the case with New Zealand and Fiji could also surprise everyone. We will take it match by match, with a fighting spirit. There are a number of players in the squad who have played in the Super Ligue and they will bring experience to the team.” – New Caledonia coach Kamali Fitialeata
Papua New Guinea vs. Vanuatu – 3.30pm Wednesday 17 April
If past form is anything to go by, this tie could prove to be an even contest as these sides were drawn in the same group two years ago and were found to be fairly evenly matched, Vanuatu posting only one more win than Papua New Guinea to finish just above them. The clash between the pair finished 2-0 in Vanuatu’s favour during that tournament and the Papua New Guinea camp will be out for revenge tomorrow. Only one player in the squad will have a first-hand memory of that game though – defender John Ray is the sole survivor from the previous campaign – and bringing about a more positive outcome will not be easy against the tournament hosts. On home soil and with one of the most established youth programmes in the Pacific, Vanuatu are in a strong position to launch a title bid and do have some history of success at this tournament after finishing third in 1995 and runners-up in 2005. Coach Etienne Mermer will be hoping home advantage can help them take the next step and lift the trophy for the first time in front of their own fans. Mermer, who attended the inaugural OFC B Licence coaching course last December, has taken a similar approach to New Zealand in terms of the build-up as his side have also been playing against local clubs to ready themselves for the tournament. The players will be in confident mood after defeating the first team of Seveners United 4-0 in the last of these friendlies and will hope to take that goalscoring form into the competition.
In their own words

“I don’t know much about Vanuatu and it is like coming into the jungle really because we don’t know what to expect. This is my first tournament with the team and I feel privileged to be leading them here. I have seen Vanuatu train and we both play Melanesian-style football which is to keep the ball on the ground. We have a few players – Peter Dabinyaba, Joshua Talau and Felix Komolong – playing in the national league back home and we should give Vanuatu a run for their money.” – Papua New Guinea coach Bob Morris

“Our boys are really looking forward to representing their country for the first time in an OFC competition but it is not going to be easy. It is a tournament that the people in Vanuatu have been waiting for and I feel privileged that we can play these important matches in front of our supporters. The most important thing is to play fair and win – that is our objective.” – Vanuatu coach Etienne Mermer
OFC U-17 Championship – Match Day 1 Preview
New Zealand vs. Cook Islands
9.30am local time, Wednesday 17 April
Luganville Soccer City Stadium
Luganville, Vanuatu

Referee: Isidore ASSIENE-AMBASSA [NCL]
Assistant Referee 1: Mahit CHILIA [VAN]
Assistant Referee 2: Folio MOEAKI [TGA]
4th Official: Averii JACQUES [NCL]
New Zealand: 1. Zac SPEEDY [GK], 2. Riley KELLIHER, 3. Cory BROWN, 4. Nick FORRESTER, 5. Adam MITCHELL, 6. Alex PALEZEVIC, 7. Andrew BLAKE, 8. Michael DEN HEIJER, 9. Elijah NEBLETT, 10. Matthew RIDENTON, 11. Monty PATTERSON, 12. Sam COPP [GK], 13. Spiro
s AGATHOS, 14. Andre DE JONG, 15. Thomas PROBERT, 16. Meysum SHAFAHI, 17. Nick SUGDEN, 18. Stuart HOLTHUSEN, 19. Alex RUFER, 20. Tamupiwa DIMAIRO
Coach: Darren BAZELEY [ENG]
Cook Islands: 1. Keegan INIA [GK], 2. Sunai JOSEPH, 4. Cahjun WILLIS, 5. Ford HENRY, 6. Takuina TARARO, 7. Dwayne TIPUTOA, 8. Kimiora SAMUELA, 9. Pekay EDWARDS, 10. Thane BEAL, 11. Maro BONSU-MARO, 12. Wiremu TEMATA, 13. Jarves APERAU, 14. Terei GEORGE, 15. Morgan WICHMAN, 16. Te-Ava WICHMAN, 17. Samuel MAOATE-COX, 20. Antonio TUAITI [GK]
Coach: Tuka TISAM [COK]
Fiji vs. New Caledonia
12.30pm local time, Wednesday 17 April
Luganville Soccer City Stadium
Luganville, Vanuatu

Referee: Nelson SOGO [SOL]
Assistant Referee 1: Douglas METE [SOL]
Assistant Referee 2: Paavo MUSTONEN [COK]
4th Official: Albert MARU [PNG]

Fiji: 1. Ratu YAVALA [GK], 2. Rupeni RABICI, 3. Joseva KOROI, 4. Suliano TAWANANAKORO, 5. Iliesa SMITH, 6. Maikeli KETEWAI, 7. Ravnit CHAND, 8. Kelvin NAIDU, 9. Shalvin SHARMA, 10. Iosefo VEREVOU, 11. Vishwa SHARMA, 12. Prashant SHARMA, 13. Raees RAFIQ, 14. Anusheel SINGH, 15. Seremaia KOROI, 16. Mohammed MOBEEN, 17. Mataiasi TOMA, 18. Jonetani BUKSH, 19. Sekove FINAU, 20. Misiwani NAIRUBE [GK]
Coach: Kamal SWAMY [FIJ]
New Caledonia: 1. Thomas SCHMIDT [GK], 2. Pierre BOANEMOA, 3. Yorick WAINEBENGO, 4. Jean-Luc DECOIRE, 5. Didier SIMANE, 6. Jim OUKA, 7. Roberto NEOERE, 8. Antony KAI, 9. Valentin NYKEINE [GK], 10. Mickael PARTODIKROMO, 11. Ben WAMOWE, 12. Theo JALABERT, 13. Brandon MEAOU, 14. Eugene SAKILIA, 15. Jacky WETEWEA, 16. Emmanuel CASE, 17. Raymond XANATRE, 18. Erwan AUSSU, 19. Macinou WAMAI, 20. Jimmy WAHNAPO [GK]
Coach: Kamali FITIALEATA
Papua New Guinea vs. Vanuatu
3.30pm local time, Wednesday 17 April
Luganville Soccer City Stadium
Luganville, Vanuatu

Referee: Ravitesh BEHARI [FIJ]
Assistant Referee 1: Glen LOCHRIE [NZL]
Assistant Referee 2: Avinesh NARAYAN [FIJ]
4th Official: Averii JACQUES [NCL]

Papua New Guinea: 1. Peter PITOR [GK], 2. John RAY, 3. Kepas KAMEN, 4. Joshua TALAU, 5. Abraham MANDAWALI, 6. Nigel MALANIAN, 7. Maya BOB, 8. Stanley STEVEN, 9. Glen KAMBUKA, 10. Nicky BENJAMIN, 11. Joshua WADUNAH, 12. Jonel KAMBUAL, 13. David MINGAI, 14. Steve INIA, 15. Felix KOMOLONG, 16. Randol BONGI, 17. Dallas NAMUESH, 18. Peter DABINYABA, 19. Andrew AOPI [GK], 20. Vagi KONIEL [GK]
Coach: Bob MORRIS [PNG]
Vanuatu: 1. Charlie WAIVUI [GK], 2. Jaison THOMAS, 3. Goshen DONNA, 4. Elie MELTE ROSSI, 5. Remy KALSRAP, 6. Douglas PATRICK, 7. Etienne NAIEU, 8. Alphonse TOA, 9. Gregory ROUARD, 10. Bong KALO, 11. Alex SANIEL, 12. Jacky RUBEN, 13. Justin KOKA, 14. Andre BULE, 15. Andrew VANVA, 16. Ruben FRANK, 17. Kerry IAWAK, 18. Renold IWAI, 19. Joe NAKO, 20. Samuel LOLI [GK]
Coach: Etienne MERMER [VAN]

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