The 2019 OFC Futsal Nations Cup hosts New Caledonia have not only secured the services of Brazilian Juliano Schmeling in the hopes he can lead them to an historic FIFA Futsal World Cup qualification, they’re also playing their first friendly matches against non-Oceania opponents.
New Caledonia are in Malaysia to play two friendlies against the 2014 OFC Futsal Invitational winners, which will also serve as Schmeling’s first test since he took over the reigns from former coach William Bret, who is now serving as his assistant.
The first of the two matches will be held on Monday 14 October and the second on Wednesday 16 October at the Panasonic Sports Complex in Shah Alam, both matches will kick-off at 8.30pm (local time).
A pre-match press conference was held at the FAM headquarter attended by Malaysia’s coach Chiew Chun Yong and captain Saiful Nizam Mohd Ali, along with Schmeling and New Caledonia captain Cedrick Numuni.
Having spent time in Australia, New Zealand and Solomon Islands as both a futsal and football coach, Schmeling is looking forward to the challenge that leading New Caledonia through the Oceania qualifiers will offer.
“I would say with the experiences that I have had, that I know the world of futsal in Oceania quite well,” Schmeling, who is also an instructor for OFC, said.
“I first came to New Caledonia in 2014 when I worked with the national team for two weeks and I developed a good relationship with the players and the coach. Now I am here with a new objective, I’m getting to know the culture, learning the level of the players and discovering new players.
“I saw the team play against Tahiti last year, and I know that there is a lot of work to do for us to perform to the best level possible in the competition.”
As for the two matches against Malaysia, Schmeling is excited.
“They will be a real challenge for us and that’s what we need. The team has been working hard but we’ve been missing matches so it will be good for the team ahead of the competition. I’m very happy.”
New Caledonia has played Malaysia twice before during the OFC Futsal Invitational tournaments in 2013 and 2014. The first match was an 8-3 loss, the second a 6-3 loss.