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Tagawa on task to deliver

The man himself believes he can.
In April the Fédération Calédonienne de Football launched its beach soccer campaign, with qualification for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup the ultimate incentive, after a number of years spent ignoring the football discipline.
Monday will mark the country’s first foray into the sport at international level and Tagawa is aware his side is facing a tough challenge against the experienced Solomon Islands, who have taken part in four World Cup finals, and the region’s perennial runners-up Vanuatu.
“We know that this task is complicated. The Solomons have competed in several World Cups and Vanuatu is close to trying their chances at that level for the first time,” Tagawa says.
“When you take a team under your wing, you have to be optimistic. We have left the basics behind, we know the rules and now we simply have to soak up the essence of the sport itself.”
Without a regular beach soccer competition in New Caledonia the other forms of the game, 11-a-side and futsal, have become more popular options among most players.
Tagawa says that this could prove to be a disadvantage for his side.
“Because beach soccer is so specific, you can’t guarantee that a good football player will definitely be a good beach soccer player,” he says.
And against opposition that is better adapted, with more experience in this form of the game the locals face a tough challenge, however Tagawa has adopted a glass half-full approach.
“Certainly we are less experienced, but we will play at home,” he says. “It’s true that nothing has been simple in the building of this team. Once Philippe Jiane, FCF advisor to futsal and beach soccer, and Kamali Fitialeata, FCF beach soccer and futsal technical director, nominated me to head this project in August 2012, we had to wait a number of months before we could begin identifying and selecting potential players.”
Tagawa says the uncertainty surrounding the date of the qualifier has had an effect on his team, with some players who were available earlier in the month, no longer able to participate.
Despite this set-back he remains confident in the side he has selected for the competition.
“Entertaining, attacking football is something innate to all Caledonian footballers, and it is an essential virtue of beach soccer,” he says.
“We will start as the underdog, that is certain, but beach soccer thrives on little errors and we must capitalise.”
New Caledonia will begin their campaign to Tahiti 2013 on Sunday, 1 September when they take on Vanuatu in Match 2 of the OFC Beach Soccer Championship at the University of New Caledonia in Noumea at 2pm.
For more on New Caledonia football go to www.fedcalfoot.com

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