Midfielder Bong Kalo says the Vanuatu U-23s have a close team bond stretching back to the Melanesian nation’s historic appearance at the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea.
Kalo revealed this after scoring a hat-trick against Papua New Guinea and helping Vanuatu advance into the semi-finals of the OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifiers in Lautoka.
The prolific attacking midfielder was the star for Vanuatu in 2017 scoring three goals in narrow 3-2 defeats against Germany and Mexico.
His exploits in South Korea led him to pen his first European deal in 2017 with amateur Switzerland side Ascona FC.
“The game was tough but I am glad for my boys since we did a good job earning points in our first two matches,” he said.
“I started with most of these players when we helped the team to qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup and one of our strengths is this is the same team.
“We have a good squad and with God everything is possible.”
The playmaker displayed his pace and incisive passing ability in Vanuatu’s wins against Papua New Guinea and Tonga and believes he can only improve in the next game.
“We had plenty of chances to score since we came into the match with a mindset to win and since we take every match as our final,” he added.
“For me, I think my performance is better than the first game but I need to improve in lots of areas for our next game”.
Kalo is a familiar face to the home fans after a brief spell with Lautoka FC earlier this year.
The Vanuatu number 10 insisted that he is friends with a few Fijian players off the field but they will be rivals on the pitch come Saturday.
“We are looking forward to playing with Fiji. It will be the last group match and we take Fiji serious since they got a very good team we respect them but in the pitch, we all want to win,” Kalo vowed.
“I played with three of the Fijian boys from Lautoka but I play against them as if it is a final. I scored three goals in my second match which help build my confidence heading into the tough match against Fiji on Saturday.”