Anticipation is building in Vanuatu ahead of Sunday’s Match Day 2 at the inaugural OFC Youth Development tournament 2019, with European representative Estonia and India from the Asian Confederation are preparing to make their first appearances at Port Vila’s Korman Stadium.
Estonia will kick off the day’s proceedings in Group A against Papua New Guinea followed by India’s Group B encounter against hosts Vanuatu.
Following a 2-1 defeat in their opening match against Tahiti, Papua New Guinea will be desperate for the points to keep their fading hopes of finishing on top of Group A alive.
Anthony Pakakota’s team showed plenty of promise especially in the first half during their opener before letting their lead slip and narrowly going down to their francophone opponents.
It won’t get any easier for the Oceania hopefuls when they face an emerging UEFA member nation in Estonia.
The Papua New Guinea coach says he knows very little about their European rivals but his players are looking forward to the challenge.
“We don’t know too much about them, but we all know they are from UEFA. They are also a developing European nation and ranking wise I understand their Federation is somewhere in the hundreds maybe closer to us, but it should be interesting to see how we fair against them,” said Pakakota.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity, I’m really thankful that this has come about, because this is the only way we get the opportunity to play against countries from different Confederations.
“We don’t know if we can qualify from our region to go to Youth World Cup so this is probably the only time we get a chance to play against teams from Europe or Asia, we don’t experience what that level of competition is until we get there.
“Bringing this competition to our shore gives us that opportunity, so even if we don’t qualify for the Youth World Cup we still get the opportunity to play against teams coming from those countries,” enthused Pakakota.
Meanwhile Estonia coach Andres Oper is relishing his return to Vanuatu following his 2017 Oceania trip with the senior national team of his country.
In his previous visit to Port Vila, Oper has guided his side to a tense 1-0 win over Vanuatu, as part of Estonia’s three match tour through the Pacific that also included a 2-0 win over Fiji and a 1-1 draw with New Caledonia.
“I’ve been here once already with the (senior) national team of Estonia before, kind of knew what to expect and very happy to be here. I think it’s a very good experience for young players and it a great experience overall for our players to have such a trip and how to deal with it,” he said.
“It’s a new and exciting challenge for us, we need to get used to the weather and time difference and it’s interesting to see how our players react to that.”
Despite a limited time to prepare the players for this tournament, Estonia’s domestic league in in full swing which should enable Oper’s team to rise to the challenge ahead.
“We prepare how we want to play and we will see, I can’t really say anything before the we start playing.
“Our season is going so they just had their league games around Estonia last weekend and right after their games we went to the airport and started to travel.
“The players are in the middle of their season so it’s not like we have prepared for this especially, we only had five days to prepare and get to know each other a little bit better before the first match,” said Oper.
Local supporters will be hoping for a much improved performance from Vanuatu when they face India in Sunday’s second match.
Paul Munster’s side was outplayed for the majority of their opening Group B encounter with New Caledonia to suffer a 3-1 defeat in the hands of their Oceania rivals.
Despite the loss the Vanuatu coach is adamant his players can take some positives out of their performance.
“Our boys never gave up, they kept fighting. It’s disappointing for them but we kept playing and what was satisfying also that we scored at the end,” he explained.
“We have been working a lot on our shape and we didn’t let them play through so easy. The goals came from individual mistakes, they didn’t play any great balls or crosses in for their goals, just some errors, basic errors that should never happen.”
Munster stresses the importance of eliminating such mistakes when they face their next opponent.
“The great thing is that now we can analyse the first game and the players can actually see, the players need to visually see these mistakes, the main thing now for these players they need to learn from this and improve,” said the Vanuatu coach.
Although Munster remains positive about his side’s ability to learn, he admits India will pose another huge test.
“India is going to be a big, big game so I have to look at some players because I’ve noticed a lot of them started to get cramp because they are not used this at this level, they’ve been playing at school level and you can see the difference.
“Most of their U-19 players play in the I-League so these players have been together since they were very, very young.
“I’ve only had two and a half, three weeks with these boys so we will need to just keep working and keep fighting for the long term future of these boys,” said Munster.
Meanwhile his Indian counterpart Floyd Pinto is happy with the way his side has settled in Port Vila.
“Vanuatu gives us a similar feel as a few places back in India, so we feel like we are at home and we want to play like that. Conditions are also familiar because it’s the rainy season the monsoon season in India as well so the weather, the climate is almost the same we would get in India,” said the India coach.
Pinto is also pleased with India’s preparations for the tournament.
“These boys are now preparing for the upcoming AFC U-19 Championship and the South Asian Football Confederation Championship so we have been training for about six months now, we have been on a couple of tours as well so that has helped to get this team together,” explained Pinto.
“They are a young group an enthusiastic group and we are looking forward to put in a good performance.
“This kind of tournaments are very important especially for youth football, as we want to play as many international matches as possible and playing against different countries gives you an experience and a feel of different culture.
“The playing style the physicality differs a lot so playing against the Oceania teams here as well as against Estonia if it comes to that point will be a good experience and valuable game time,” said Pinto.
Despite India’s thorough preparations for the tournament, Pinto remains adamant his side will not underestimate their Oceania opponents.
“The first game against the home nation on a Sunday, we are expecting a big crowd and that is one of the things these boys are looking forward to, that atmosphere and I think it will be a really good game. We watched a few games of Vanuatu I think they are a physical side, really fast and strong side so it’s going to be a good challenge for our boys,” insisted the India coach.
Papua New Guinea vs Estonia
Sunday 18 August
Port Vila, Vanuatu
Referee: Ben Aukwai (SOL)
Assistant Referee 1: Malaetala SALANOA (SAM)
Assistant Referee 2: Tom KALIWOK (VAN)
Fourth Official: Veer SINGH (FIJ)
Fifth Official: Marc SINYEUE (NCL)
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: 1. Adrian REDENUT (GK) 2. Elijah POTUA (DF) 3. Butler HOSEA (DF) 4. Moses SARUFA (DF) 5. Aydan JOKU (DF) 6. Joshua URRO (DF) 7. Jason WADUNAH (MF) 8. Lee-Navu FAUNT (MF) 9. Renagi ILA (FW) 10. Tuvirapa AINGAS (FW) 11. Morris DEVI (FW) 12. Kativa POKANA (DF) 13. Isaiah NABA (DF) 14. Joseph WAIWAI (MF) 15. Solomon RANI (MF) 16. Joseph EALEDONA (MF) 17. Emmanuel BAFENG (MF) 18. Jamal MILLIS (FW) 19. Hayden RAMINAI (MF) 20. Andrew BANIAU (GK)
Head Coach: Anthony PAKAKOTA (PNG)
ESTONIA: 1. Martin TILK (GK) 2. Ralf-Sander SUVINÕMM (DF) 3. Erik KRUGLOV (DF) 4. Naatan Siimeon TAMM (DF) 5. Kristo HUSSAR (DF) 6. Georg GRAHV (DF) 7. Aleksander ILJIN (MF) 8. Artjom KOVRIGIN (DF) 9. Daniel FEDOTOV (ST) 10. Ivan TIMOFEJEV (MF) 11. Ralf FRIEDEMANN (MF) 12. Matheas MADIK (GK) 13. Georg-Marten MEUMERS (MF) 14. Raoul RIIGOV (MF) 15. Daniel TUHKANEN (MF) 16. Robin LIMBERG (MF) 17. Joonas LUTS (MF) 18. Nikita KARASJOV (MF) 19. Arthur JERŠOV (MF) 20. Rocco MÕTT (MF)
Head Coach: Andres OPER (EST)
Vanuatu vs. India
Sunday 18 August
Port Vila, Vanuatu
Referee: Roger ADAMS (PNG)
Assistant Referee 1: Colin LOWONG (PNG)
Assistant Referee 2: Aswin RAJ (FIJ)
Fourth Official: Rani PERRY (TAH)
Fifth Official: Sione LELENGA (TGA)
VANUATU: 1. James CHILIA (GK) 2. Junior OKAO (DF) 4. Julian ALA (DF) 5. Froncois ATEL (DF) 6. Alandro SAU (DF) 7. Julian BANGA (MF) 8. KARU Chrislee (MF) 9. Jonah ABEL (FW) 10. Jayson BULE (FW) 11. Pietro TAKARO (MF) 12. Austin HOLI (DF) 13. William TASAU (MF) 14. Bebeto RURUELI (MF) 15. Joel BOTLENG (DF) 16. Armando RAVO (MF) 17. Nicholas KINGS (DF) 18. Simione Iwai IWAI SIMIONE (FW) 19. Nimruken KLEN (MF) 20. Jimson SHEM (GK) 23. Brendon TANKON (GK)
Head Coach: Paul MUNSTER (IRL)
INDIA: 1. Prabhsukhan SINGH (GK) 2. Muhammed RAFI (DF) 3. Jitendra SINGH (DF) 4. Akash MISHRA (DF) 6. Vikram PARTAP (MF) 7. Ninthoinganba MEETEI (MF) 9. Aman CHETRI (FW) 10. Givson SINGH (MF) 11. Manvir SINGH (FW) 12. Gurkirat SINGH (DF) 13. Lalbiakhlua JONGTE (GK) 14. Ricky SHABONG (MF) 15. Jeakson SINGH (MF) 16. Bikash YUMNAM (DF) 17. Ravi BAHADUR (MF) 18. Sumit RATHI (DF) 21. Niraj KUMAR (GK) 23. Sanoop CHANDRAN (MD) 24. Thoiba SINGH (DF) 25. Hormipam RUIVAH (DF)
Head Coach: Head Coach: Floyd PINTO (IND)