Fitialeata acknowledges his side will be hard pressed to challenge New Zealand, who remain the favourites in this competition, and says losing several players late in the game hasn’t helped.
“There was a change to the dates we were working to and unfortunately that doesn’t make the task any easier. A number of the girls have their final exams at the same time and two others became unavailable at the last minute,” he explains.
“But we must deal with these things and we will do everything possible to do well in this competition. It’s disappointing that we couldn’t count on certain players who were important members of the team.
“But we have to learn and continue to progress,” he says.
With a tough task on the horizon, Fitialeata is concentrating on what his side can do, and not what they can’t.
“We know that it will be difficult in Tonga, but the girls need to go there to get experience and it is also in difficult circumstances that one grows.
“Whatever happens, the girls will bond during this experience.”
Fitialeata has had a lot of success on the regional stage with New Caledonia national teams of late.
He led the men’s U-17 side to fourth at the OFC U-17 Championship in January, with a 5-4 encounter against New Zealand one of the highlights of that campaign.
He was also in charge of the senior women’s charge at the XV Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea in which the side came home with silver medals for the second consecutive edition.
New Caledonia’s first challenge in Tonga will be against Vanuatu at Loto-Tonga Soka Centre with kick-off schedule for 15h30 (local).
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