New Caledonia national team coach Thierry Sardo has named a side brimming with experience and class as they continue their bid to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup™.
Les Cagous are set to open Stage 3 of Oceania’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Qualifiers against New Zealand in Auckland on 12 November, before welcoming the All Whites at home at Stade Yoshida in Kone three days later.
Sardo’s 20-man squad sees striker Georges Gope-Fenepej make his return to international duty for the first time in 2016 after missing the OFC Nations Cup in May due to club commitments.
He will be joined by fellow France-based players Cesar Zeoula and Jorys Mene.
Without the experience of Rocky Nykiene in goal, Sardo needs to rely on his two youngsters Mickaël Ulile, 19, and Thomas Schmidt, 20, but he’s confident in their abilities.
“They performed well in the Solomon Islands, I don’t see why I shouldn’t contiue to have confidence in them,” Sardo said.
“Thomas made an error on Friday in the Coupe de Caledonie semi-final, but Buffon, Italy’s keeper, did the same thing a week earlier and no-one has said he should be sent out,” Sardo laughed.
Sardo has options up the flanks and believes he has a strong back line with a couple of options tested in the recent friendlies against the Solomon Islands.
“In both cases, thy were solid, and we didn’t concede any goals,” Sardo reflected.
A number of factors have influenced the make-up of this squad from surgery for Georges Bearune, to educational commitments for Joseph Tchacko.
And also playing on the OFC A Licence coach’s mind will be the potential loss of certain players for at least one leg of the home-and-away series.
The Coupe de Caledonie final will be played on Saturday 22 October between top clubs AS Magenta and Hienghene Sport.
The winner of this match will progress to the 7th Round of the Coupe de France, with the match scheduled to take place on Saturday 12 November,
Several members of the national team – including emblematic captain Bertrand Kai – come from those two clubs which could cause problems.
However for now Sardo is fully concentrated on moving ahead with his named squad.
Thomas Schmidt (AS Lössi)
Mickaël Ulile (Gaitcha)
Jean-Brice Wadriako (AS Magenta)
Pierre Kauma (AS Lossi)
Loïc Wakanumuné (AS Magenta)
Jorys Mène (Ailly sur Somme, CFA2)
Yoann Mercier (Hienghène Sport)
Emile Bearuné (Patho)
Joseph Athalé (Wetr)
Cédric Sansot (Magenta)
Roy Kayara (Hienghène)
Jacky Meindu (USC)
Morgan Mathelon (Wetr)
César Zéoula (Laval, L2)
Joël Wakanumuné (Magenta)
Brice Dahité (Hienghène)
Richard Sele (Lössi)
Bertrand Kaï (Hienghène)
Georges Gope-Fenepej (Amiens, L2)
Paul Roine (Magenta)
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