The stage is set at Papeete’s Parc Aorai Tini Hau for the much anticipated OFC Beach Soccer Nations Cup 2019 which will take place between 17 and 22 June in Tahiti.
Five teams will be competing in French Polynesia with New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu joining defending champions and two-time FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup runners-up Tahiti.
Apart from regional supremacy, a spot in the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Paraguay 2019 is also on offer for the tournament winner.
With double-headers scheduled over six consecutive matchdays, each of the five participating teams will face each other once in a round robin format before the final and the third-place play-off to conclude the competition.
Beach soccer enjoys enormous popularity in Tahiti, which distinguished itself on the global stage both by reaching two World Cup finals and by hosting the successful FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in 2013.
With big crowds expected throughout the tournament and with the best talent from across the Pacific on display, the OFC Nations Cup promises to showcase the game throughout the entire Oceania region.
OFC Beach Soccer Development officer Paul Toohey says it’s great to see the tournament back after a six year hiatus.
“For all of us involved in beach soccer the overwhelming sensation is that it’s fantastic to be here on the eve of the OFC Beach Soccer Nations Cup after so many years away, he said.
“The important thing is we are back. I’m happy for the players, the coaches, the referees and the fans who have had to wait since 2013.
“There is so much enthusiasm here in Papeete this week, I am certain we will have a wonderful tournament to showcase the sport and make sure that beach soccer is here to stay.
“It is great we have five teams involved, but we want to grow the sport. Our aim for 2021 is to have at least eight teams. But this is a fantastic start. Oceania players are born on the sand, beach soccer is our game,” Toohey added.
Les Cagous make their second appearance at the tournament, following their second-placed finish on home sand in 2013. Coach Felix Tagawa returns from that campaign and is fresh from leading Hienghene Sport to the OFC Champions League title in May. With a number of that squad involved this week, they will be looking for a smooth transition from 11-a-side to the sand-based form of the game.
Team List: 1. Rocky NYIKEINE, (GK) 2. Georges WAKANUMUNE, 3. Jean-Jacques KATRAWA, 4. Jacky WETEWEA, 5. Jérémie DOKUNENGO, 6. Jacky WEINANE, 7. Yvanoe BAMY, 8. Jean-Pierre AYAWA, 9. Amy Antoine ROINE, 10. Joseph ATHALE, 11. Patrick DIAIKE, 12. Jean-Nathanael HLEMU (GK)
Head Coach: Felix TAGAWA (NCL)
Goalkeeping is a major part of beach soccer and 2019 OFC Champions League Golden Glove winner Rocky Nyikeine have to be in great form for his side to succeed in Tahiti. His skipper and Hienghene teammate Patrick Diaike is a vastly experienced former New Caledonian international who also represented his country in futsal. While 27-year old Yvanoe Bamy is technically well equipped and another one of Tagawa’s six Hienghene Sport selections.
“We’ve only had a relatively short time to put the team together and prepare for this tournament but we will not use that as an excuse. It is a very important competition for us and we take it very seriously. Beach soccer is a major part of our technical and tactical development overall and we want to improve. We also want to perform well on the international stage. We will focus on one game at a time and hopefully we will come away with positive results.”
Four-time OFC Beach Soccer champions return to Papeete after relinquishing their Beach Soccer crown to the hosts in 2011. Led by legendary former player Gideon Omokirio, the 2019 squad is determined to recapture the glory days and qualify for their sixth FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. With their, fluent, aerial based style, Biliki are an exciting and entertaining proposition. Their eagerly anticipated match with Tahiti on Match Day 3 is shaping as a major highlight of the group phase
Team List: 1. Abraham BIRD (GK), 2. Allen FAROBO, 3. Roy MAFANE, 4. Thompson PETER, 5. Nelson SAMANI, 6. Nicholas MURI, 7. Max FA’ARI, 8. Anthony TALO, 9. Kiven KOIPALA, 10. James NAKA, 11. Mcphilip AISA, 12 Fred HALE (GK)
Head Coach: Gideon OMOKIRIO (SOL)
The experienced quartet of Fred Hale, Nicholas Muri, Anthony Talo, James Naka will be joined by some fresh talent to provide a good mix of experience and youth.
“We will not take anything for granted and we will approach every game as a final. We respect all our opponenets from New Caledonia to Tonga but we want to do well in this tournament and we will give 100 per cent in every match we play.”
With the pressure of home crowd expectations in the beach soccer-mad nation, powerhouse hosts Tahiti carry the tag of heavy favourites. However, Tiki Toa are keen to shake off any thoughts of complacency, as they look to book their place in their fifth consecutive FIFA beach Soccer World Cup. Naea Bennett’s squad is packed with experienced giants of the world beach soccer scene, players who will look to impose their technical and tactical supremacy on their Oceania rivals.
Team List: 1. Jonathan TOROHIA (GK), 2. Angelo TCHEN, 3. Ariihau TERIITAU, 4. Heimanu TAIARUI, 5. Gervais CHAN KAT, 6. Patrick TEPA, 7. Raimana LI FUNG KUEE, 8. Heiarii TAVANAE, 9. Heirauarii SALEM, 10. Tearii LABASTE, 11. Teaonui TEHAU, 12. Franck REVEL (GK)
Head Coach: Naea BENNETT (TAH)
Former FIFA World Cup Golden Ball winner Heimanu Taiarui is sure to make his mark on the tournament, along with creative talisman and skipper Raimana Li Fung Kuee. Tearii Labaste is likely to be amongst the goals while Angelo Tchen will anchor the Tiki Toa’s defensive structure in front of former FIFA World Cup Golden Glove winner Jonathan Torohia.
“We need to start strong, we need to win our first game. In any tournament the opening match is crucial and that game will show me not only the strength of our opposition but also the state and preparedness of my players. There will be expectations and pressure and my team must be mentally prepared and switched on.”
Tautahi make history as they embark on their maiden international appearance on the sand. With a young group of mainly Ha’apai based players, Tonga are looking to measure themselves against the region’s top beach soccer talent, with a view to developing a competitive squad for future competitions.
Team List: 1. Sione TAKELO (GK), 2. Tevita HAVILI, 3. Folauhola MESUI, 4. Tupou UHATAHI, 5. Penisimani VEIKOSO, 6. Joseph PALE, 7. Pitasoni ULAVALU, 8. Sione TUTONE, 9. Siaki FINAU, 10. Alimoni KAUFUSI (GK), 11. Kilifi UELE, 12. Sione TUPOU
Head Coach: Makamione LONI (TGA)
Pivot Tupou Uhatahi is Tautahi’s key man in attack, while at the back, 21 year old Pitasoni Ulavalu will anchor the defence. Skipper and glove man Sione Takelo is sure to be kept busy throughout the week but his distribution will also be vital to coach Makamione Loni’s attacking game plan.
“We are new to beach soccer and we are underdogs but I believe we have prepared well and if we stick to our game-plan and stay organised in our structure, we can cause a bit of a surprise. We will also learn from this experience and when we return next time we will be better and stronger.”
Vanautu have a strong tradition in Oceania beach soccer and return to this year’s competition with a fresh long term vision for the development of the sport in the country. Experienced coach Wilson Marango has been able to call on a number of players from previous campaigns, but is also relying on the talents offered by a number high profile, technically well-equipped football players new to international beach soccer.
Team List: 1. Seiloni IARUEL (GK), 2. Don MANSALE, 3. Ivong WILSON, 4. Octav MELTECOIN, 5. Antonio MALAPA, 6. Reece TASIP, 7. Harison MASSING, 8. Eddison STEPHEN, 9. Johndas THOMAS, 10. Evaristo KAPALU, 11. Loic BOULET, 12. Alfred MALAS (GK)
Head Coach: Wilson MARANGO (VAN)
Dual futsal and beach soccer Don Mansale will crucial to Wilson Marango’s attacking game plan, along with new beach soccer talents Ivong Wilson and Anthonio Malapa. Seiloni Iaruel’s experience with the national football team will offer his side some security between the sticks.
“Our prime objective is to revive the sport in Vanuatu by tasting it again at OFC level for the first time in six years. Our return to the competition will provide us with a growing confidence for future tournaments. We have been preparing since March and we believe in the potential of our emerging young talent which bodes well for our future.”
OFC Beach Soccer Nations Cup 2019 – Papeete, Tahiti 17-22 June
Match Day 1
New Caledonia vs Solomon Islands
Monday 17 June
Parc Aorai Tini Hau, Papeete, Tahiti
KO: 14:00 (Local time)
Firts referee: Aurelien PLANCHAIS-GODEFROY (FRA)
Second referee: Rudolphe TAU (TAH)
Third referee: Malkom MAYOHO (VAN)
Timekeeper: Pari OITO (TAH)
For Live Stream click here
Tahiti vs Vanuatu
Monday 17 June
Parc Aorai Tini Hau, Papeete, Tahiti
KO: 16:00 (Local time)
Firts referee: Hugo PADO (SOL)
Second referee: Maxwell ALUI (SOL)
Third referee: Soakai LIUAKI (TGA)
Timekeeper: Felix BEA (TAH)
For Live Stream click here