Festival of Champions on horizon

Arriving in Chile via Easter Island the 23 man squad were greeted by freezing temperatures combined with rain – a shock to their systems after leaving the sunny beaches of home.
Following a trip of close to ten hours recuperation was key so following a quiet night in the side took a walk around the neighbourhood in the morning before getting into their first training on South American soil in the afternoon.
Fifteen minutes of light jogging was followed by forty minutes of various technical exercises all completed under a clear blue sky with the Andes at one end of the pitch.
This morning it was back to the business of preparing for the Confederations Cup, and after a rather disastrous FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign the side is pleased to be back on a winning path.
Lorenzo Tehau, Teaonui Tehau and Samuel Hnanyine all found the net to earn a win for the team against their young opponents – all of whom dream of a professional career.
Every player from coach Eddy Etaeta’s squad had a run during the match, except for Stephane Faatiarau who is nursing an injury, with the three keepers playing 30 minutes each between the posts.
Tahiti coach Eddy Etaeta says during their preparations the side has focused on three factors – athleticism or fitness, tactics and mentality.
“However we are not in denial. We are very conscious that eight to ten weeks of professional training is not going to match ten years of professionalism that separates us from national teams like Spain or Uruguay,” Etaeta says.
Despite having a former professional in captain Nicolas Vallar, as well as the services of professional striker Marama Vahirua, Etaeta says there are no stars in the Toa Aito team.
“We don’t have any key players. We have always put the spotlight on the bigger picture, the state of mind and being a group. For me, the star is the whole team,” he says.
With the competition on the horizon the side now have a chance to prove themselves on the world stage, and while they are aware of their limitations and the challenge that faces them Etaeta says they have set goals for what they would like to achieve in Brazil.
“Try not to concede any goals in a half will already be an impressive performance. But above all, to score a goal will be a huge sporting exploit in my view,” he says.
“I want to represent our Pacific region with pride in the company of my team. We are here to bring honour to amateur football in the world of massive world class stars and money.”

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