Just a short period at the helm of the U-17 New Caledonia squad, broken up by the festive period, hasn’t hampered the Michel Clarque’s determination to succeed.
Clarque took over the squad in late 2016 and despite the short period in charge still has high hopes for what his side can achieve here in Tahiti.
“We’ve been able to work with them for a couple of months, although broken up by Christmas and New Year,” he explained.
“How the players have adapted to what we’ve been working on in training has been encouraging.
“And they are a talented bunch at the base of things so we are quite happy with where we are at ahead of kick-off.”
But Clarque also acknowledged that preparations haven’t been exactly as he might have liked.
“We haven’t had an ideal build-up,” he said.
“It’s a little bit disappointing that our preparation hasn’t included the competitiveness of friendly matches or competitions.
“But that doesn’t mean we won’t be giving our all to go as far in the competition as possible.”
The primary objective is still to qualify for the semi-finals at least, but preferably to go further still.
“We have come here to win, even if that will be difficult. It is after all a competition,” he said.
“With two places at the U-17 World Cup on offer for Oceania it’s a great opportunity for us.”
New Caledonia will begin their campaign at Stade Mahina this afternoon against Papua New Guinea in the opening match of the OFC U-17 Championship.