Labaste ready for big test

Ariiura Labaste in action against Samoa in the Group Stage. Credit: OFC via Phototek

Seeing what the Tahiti U-19 team achieved on home soil still plays at the forefront of Ariiura Labaste’s mind as he prepares for the biggest match of his short career yet.

Labaste was able to watch on last month as the U-19 squad qualified for only their second-ever FIFA U-20 World Cup.

Now he and the Tama Ura are one match away from the same feat and Labaste believes his side are capable.

“Overall the tournament has been really hard, but we’ve put in a lot of effort,” the 16-year-old said.

“I think the most difficult match for us so far was against New Caledonia. They played hard and we were pretty tired by the end.”

Their semi-final opponent is defending champions New Zealand, a side which has won the title for the past six-straight editions of this competition.

“They have a lot of good qualities,” Labaste said of the Kiwi side.

“We’ll have to work incredibly hard and win this match.

“We have the capacity to follow in the footsteps of the U-19 and qualify for the World Cup.”

Back in Tahiti Labaste plays his football with AS Venus, a club he credits with getting him to where he is now.

“I’m very proud to represent my club here because it’s thanks to them that I have achieved what I have.”

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