Fiji will go into the match on the back of three straight wins, while Vanuatu have two wins and a draw. With nine points, Fiji lead the table and, while a draw would leave them needing to beat Solomon Islands on the last day to be sure of the title, they are approaching this as a must-win clash.
Having been made to work hard for each of their victories, including a 1-0 victory over New Caledonia on Match Day 1, the Vanuatu side will be starting to feel the aches and pains that come with playing three physically draining matches in five days. But Mermer and his coaching staff remain aware of the underlying need for a win with a tough final day encounter lined up with Papua New Guinea.
“Our decision making in the front third was poor on Tuesday but fortunately we don’t have any major injury concerns just a few niggles that you’d expect in a tournament like this. We’ll be going through an extensive recovery session today and I’m sure we’ll be right for the match with Fiji on Thursday,” says Vanuatu assistant coach Anthony Pisano.
By contrast, the Fiji players will be motivated to get a victory in front of their own fan base. On the path to this penultimate face-off, Fiji disposed of American Samoa 4-0, Papua New Guinea 3-0 and New Caledonia 2-0. None of these were easy wins for the host side, with coach Ravinesh Kumar hoping his charges can retain the determination they have showed in their three wins when they take on the in-form Vanuatu where victory will guarantee qualification for the FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015.
“We have to treat the match with Vanuatu the same as the three games we’ve played and won so far. Our team know the importance of our win over Papua New Guinea on Tuesday and the importance of the Vanuatu match that is coming up. The next match can go a long way to determining their destiny in this competition,” Kumar says.
In the opening match of the day, Solomon Islands and American Samoa continue their search for their first victories of the campaign.
Solomon Islands gave New Caledonia a real scare yesterday as they hauled back a 1-0 deficit before eventually succumbing to a 3-1 defeat. But the Commins Menapi-coached side’s hopes of an upset collapsed in the latter stages after being hit twice on the counter attack.
Assistant coach Gideon Omokirio says his team’s search for goals continues to be a challenge.
“We take every game with the same game plan, but we’re going to work on scoring goals. We’ve missed a lot of chances throughout the three games we’ve played. We’re going to work very hard on this at training,” he says.
The Solomon Islands side possesses speed and agility and have a strong attack in the form of Dunstan Quanafia Jnr, Joachim Kari and Misitana Samani and they could pose serious problems for an American Samoa defence that has leaked an average of three goals per game to date.
Despite the differences in the quality of the squad’s at the disposal of Menapi and his opposite number Rupeni Luvu, American Samoa can be proud of their discipline and organisation, two positives that led them to securing their precious 1-1 draw with Papua New Guinea on Match Day 2.
But Luvu’s hopes of a repeat upset have already received a setback with his son, Rueben, unavailable after opting to return to Pago Pago for his high school graduation ceremony. Luvu SNR also awaits the return from suspension of hard-working midfielder Rafael Rocha who was sent off in the draw with Papua New Guinea.
“We will miss one of the best players in Rueben, but that’s why we have brought some of the others and hopefully they can step up to the challenge. I hope they’ll fill the gap well. We will work hard, one of our aims is to finish this tournament well so that’s what we’ll be trying to do,” he says.
The final match of the day pits Papua New Guinea against New Caledonia with both teams eager to finish as high up the standings as possible.
Papua New Guinea coach Wynton Rufer faces a dilemma as to whether he plays his full strength side acknowledging a slim mathematical chance of qualification still exists or whether he opts to build for the future.
“There’s different ways to look at the next two matches. We have three players who can play in the squad in two years’ time and one U-17 player.
“One of our options is to play all those guys. We don’t get enough international experience so the question is do we give these players the opportunity to play and give them that experience.
“We need Fiji to lose their next two games to have a chance now. It’s impossible for us and I can’t see how Fiji are going to drop points, maybe to the Solomon Islands, but it’s looking very good for Fiji,” he says.
New Caledonia coach Kamali Fitialeata says the management of fatigue may determine which team prevails on Thursday.
“The competition is long, a match every two days is difficult, but the team that recovers well, that has their mind set right, will be the one that does something positive.
“For the next match with Papua New Guinea, we’re going to continue our analysis that we started and will put things in place, but we can only wait and see how our team performs, as we had to do against Solomons,” he says.
Coverage of the matches via live streaming will be available at the official OFC YouTube channel.
Live text updates will be available at www.oceaniafootball.com, while updates and social media comment are on Twitter @OFCFootball and the official Oceania Football Confederation Facebook page.
This release is available at www.oceaniafootball.com
OFC U-20 Championship – MATCH DAY 4 PREVIEW
This is the official preview of Match Day 4. Please note squads are subject to change.
Solomon Islands v American Samoa
2.30pm local time, Tuesday 27 May
Referee: Bruce GEORGE [VAN]
Assistant Referee 1: Roger ADAMS [PNG]
Assistant Referee 2: Sione SEU [TGA]
4th Official: Ravinesh BEHARI [FIJ]
Head to head: Played 1, Solomon Islands 1 win, American Samoa 0 wins, 0 draws.
Solomon Islands Form: L-D-L
SOL: 1. Philip MANGO [GK], 2. Rollence MISITANA, 3. Simon DAOI, 4. Loea Erekona LEMIX, 5. Misitana SAMANI, 6. Alffie CHACHA, 7. Edmond TAEVO, 8. Joachim KAIRI, 9. Dunstan QUANAFIA JNR., 10. Jared RONGOSULIA, 11. Herrick LAUTALO, 12. Obed KEVIN, 13. Fred BALA, 14. Atkin KAUA, 15. Leslie RAMO, 16. Timothy BUNABO JNR., 17. Brett HONISAWA, 18. Allen PETER, 19. Timothy BAKALE, 20. James DO’ORO [GK]
Coach:Commins MENAPI [SOL]
American Samoa Form: L-D-L
ASA: 1. Fred MAIVA [GK], 2. Johnny SIONE, 3. Neemia KALEOPA, 4. Paul COLLINS, 5. Paia IPINIU, 6. Sam KOME, 8. Rafael ROCHA, 9. Ryan PAAGA, 10. Sinisa TUA, 1. Falai KERISIANO, 12. Kaleopa SILIGI, 13. Fala LEVAULA, 14. Tokilupelekina AFU, 15. David ALO, 16. Lotupo LAMETA, 17. Henry LAMETA, 18. Tokoita VAIELI, 23. Sione Haisila MOEAKI [GK].
Coach: Rupeni LUVU [ASA]
Fiji v Vanuatu
5pm local time, Tuesday 27 May
Referee: Averii JACQUES [TAH]
Assistant Referee 1: Paul AHUPU [TAH]
Assistant Referee 2: Johnny NIABO [SOL]
4th Official: Albert MARU [PNG]
Head to head: Played 6, Fiji 2 wins, Vanuatu 4 wins, 0 draws.
Fiji Form: W-W-W
FIJ: 1. Nairube MISIWANI [GK], 2. Praneel NAIDU, 3. Ganish PRASAD, 4. Jale DRELOA, 5.Antonio TIVUNI, 6. Mohammed KHAN, 7. Nickel CHAND, 8. Setareki HUGHES, 9.Samuela NAIBENIA, 10. Junior RAO, 11. Josefa KOROI, 12. Ratu Tevita WARANAIVALU, 13. Mataisi TOMA, 14. Ravnit Shelvin CHAND, 15. Saula WAQA,16.Jonetana BUKSH, 17. Kolinio SIVOKI, 18. Al-Taaf Mansoor SAHIB, 19. Ashnil RAJU 20. Shaneel NAIDU [GK]
Coach: Ravinesh KUMAR [FIJ]
Vanuatu Form: W-D-W
VAN: 1. Charlie WAIVUI [GK], 2. Jaison THOMAS, 3. Goshen DONA, 4. Alphonse LENCY, 5. Joseph IARUEL, 6. Remy KALSARAP, 7. Elie MELITE ROSSI, 8. Justin KOKA, 10. Bong KALO, 11. Alex S
ANIEL, 12. Andre BULE, 13. Ruben FRANK, 14. Kersom KALSONG, 15. Etienne NAIEU, 16. Jacky RUBEN, 17. Sam IWAI, 18. Kerry IAWAK, 19. Renold IWAI, 24. Ricky DICK [GK]
Coach: Etienne MERMER [VAN]
Papua New Guinea v New Caledonia
7.30pm local time, Tuesday 27 May
Referee: Robinson BANGA [VAN]
Assistant Referee 1: Folio MOEAKI [TGA]
Assistant Referee 2: Jeremy GARAE [VAN]
Fourth Official: George TIME [SOL]
Head to head: Played 1, Papua New Guinea 0 wins, New Caledonia 1 win, 0 draws.
Papua New Guinea Form: W-D-L
PNG: 20. Gibson JIMMY [GK], 2. Abel REDENUT, 3. Jonel KAMBUAL, 4. Ayrton YAGAS, 5. Rodger SAKING, 6. Dirik KOMOLONG, 7. Issac LALO, 9. Papalau AWELE, 10. Steve INIA, 11. Peter DABINYABA, 12. Nigel MALAGIAN, 13. Maya BOB, 14. Freddy TUPANI, 15. Nicky BENJAMIN, 16. Randol BONGI, 17. Ferdahlas NAMUESH, 18. Danny KEVIN, 19. Frederick SIMONGI.
Mb>Coach: Wynton RUFER [NZL]
Suspended: 8. Joshua TALAU
Injured: 1. Koniel VAGI [GK]
New Caledonia Form: L-L-W
NCL: 1. Yoran WAIMA [GK], 2. Brandon MEAOU, 3. Jordy KAUSUO, 4. Pierre KAUMA, 5. Theo JALABERT, 6. Jorys LALIE, 7. Jim OUKA, 8. Mickael PARTODIKROMO, 9. Raphael OIREMOIN, 10. Joseph ATHALE, 11. Valentin NYKEINE, 12. Didier SIMANE, 13. Eugene SAKILIA, 14. Frederic NEMIA, 15. Johan IDRELE, 16. Jacky WETEWEA, 17. Jacky WEINANE, 18. Marion WARU,20. Thomas SCHMIDT [GK], 21. Josue WATHIEPEL.
Coach: Kamali FITIALEATA [NCL]