At a time when only New Zealand has managed to play national team matches outside of their own country, Tahiti may have an ace up their sleeve ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ OFC preliminary competition, thanks to the recent activities of a couple of local club sides.  

Despite the pandemic which has hindered football in the region, in the last few months Tahitian Ligue 1 sides AS Vénus and AS Pirae have both travelled overseas to play professional sides, as part of their participation in the Coupe de France and FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2021™ respectively.  

With a number of players from both those clubs in line to be part of Tahiti’s attempt to qualify for the intercontinental play-off, coach Sam Garcia said it will add valuable experience to his group.  

Garcia also confirmed the team will depart for France in mid February to play friendly matches against club sides Cognac, Rodez and Toulouse, ahead of flying to Qatar for their first game against Vanuatu on March 17.   

“For sure it’s beneficial to have that experience of the Vénus and Pirae players,” Garcia said.  

“It means we have players who know themselves, and can teach others, what level they must reach in terms of intensity, concentration and discipline, in order to achieve good results internationally.  

“We have gathered several times in Tahiti, but the real preparation will begin in France where we have several matches lined up.” 

Tahiti will face the Cook Islands and Solomon Islands in their remaining Group A matches, with the top two teams from the group progressing to the semi-finals.