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Pacific champions target further success

OFC Nations Cup Profiles
New Caledonia
The French territory of New Caledonia has a proud history in the Nations Cup, having finished second in the previous tournament — their only defeats coming at the hands of eventual champions New Zealand — and placing third on two occasions, in 1973 and 1980.
Coach Alain Moizan, who has taken over the reins from previous incumbent Christophe Coursimault, will have his sights set on another high placing and that Pacific Games win means anything less would be regarded as a majar failure.
The Frenchman has big boots to fill in the coaching hot seat as Coursimault was the man who earned the Games gold medal on home soil last September and Moizan will have to try to do so with a revamped side.
Several players from that triumphant Games team are no longer available for national service, the most significant of these being midfielder Pierre Wajoka. The talismanic Wajoka had been New Caledonia’s finest player for much of his lengthy career but hung up his international boots after the Games gold, leaving a rather sizeable void in the Les Cagous engine room.
It will be up to the likes of Olivier Dokunengo, Dominique Wacalie and Joel Wakanumune to ensure the loss of Wajoka isn’t keenly felt and, if they can effectively run the middle of the park, Les Cagous should become a free-scoring side.
In Bertrand Kai and Georges Gope-Fenepej, New Caledonia will have one of the most dangerous frontlines in Honiara, the former having shown his class at the Pacific Games with 10 goals to earn the Golden Boot award.
Moizan’s men have been handed some tricky assignments in Group A with their opening match against Vanuatu on Friday shaping as a particularly testing challenge.
Further clashes against fellow francophones Tahiti (3 June) and Samoa (5 June) follow as Les Cagous aim to carry over their Pacific Games form to the Nations Cup stage.
“We want to win every tournament we play in,” Moizan says.
“That’s what we have been working towards and it’s important that we finish in the top four because those teams will go on to play in the next round of World Cup qualifying.”

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