The inaugural OFC Youth Development tournament 2019 gets underway in Vanuatu on Thursday with four Oceania teams leading the way at Korman Stadium.
Organised in partnership with UEFA through the UEFA Assist Programme the main aim of this tournament is to provide players, coaches and referees in our region with the necessary tool that will enhance their performance on off the field at international level.
Despite the primary focus isn’t necessarily on winning a title, the six U-18 teams that were invited to participate in this cross-Confederation event will be doing their best in order to mark the historic occasion that will feature OFC representatives New Caledonia, Tahiti, Papua New Guinea and host Vanuatu, as well as Estonia from Europe and India from Asia.
Group A rivals Tahiti and Papua New Guinea will kick off proceeding on the opening Match-day followed by New Caledonia’s clash with Vanuatu in Group B.
Tahiti coach Vatea Terai is hopeful his side will approach each match including, their opener against PNG, with a desire and hunger for learning, developing and gaining valuable international experience.
However, he is also adamant his side will treat every match with the respect that international competitions such as this demand and deserve.
“We are here because we want to progress and to improve and to be better in football,” he stated.
“With the help of these matches against all the other countries, Estonia from Europe and India from Asia and the teams from the Pacific, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu and us, we will all be better because we play against good players and good coaches and we will progress.”
“We want to learn and we will do everything we can do to win,” Terai said.
The main core of the Tahitian team has been together since last September’s OFC U-16 Championship that was held in Honiara and Terai is pleased with his players’ preparations.
“For this tournament we started our preparations on the 8th of July and we have been training for five weeks now and my players are ready,” said the Tahiti coach.
Papua New Guinea have also been in camp for the past four weeks and coach Anthony Pakakota is satisfied with his players’ progress ahead of their opener against Tahiti.
“Our focus has been on improving our structural play. The boys picked up well and I’m confident we will be competitive out there,” said the PNG coach.
“The core of the team is made up of boys which took part in the qualifiers for the U17 World Cup last year. We just doing few changes and added few new players to blend them with the overall structure.”
Although the main focus is on development, Pakakota says he wants to use the tournament as preparation for next year’s qualifier for the U20 World Cup.
“It’s a development tournament so will use it to learn and at the same time bring what we have trained and learn into the tournament,” he said.
In the latter kick off on Match day 1, New Caledonia will face hosts Vanuatu.
Les Cagous coach Felix Tagawa is expecting competitive encounter and he called on New Caledonian football fans to support his players.
“Vanuatu is a team that plays football well,” he said.
“We played them last year in Tahiti with the U-19s and we had trouble. We scored really early and had to then ensure we held onto the match.
This time the tournament is at their home and they’ll have the local supporters behind them which will be a plus for them. I think that to start it’ll be 50-50.
“We’ll play with our hearts, hope that you will follow us with your hearts as you always do, and we’ll give our best,” Tagawa insisted.
The New Caledonia coach is also confident his players are well equiped to produce strong performances throughout the tournament.
“We played some matches, we only recently selected the team and have been together about four weeks, but see each other only once a week because we’re in the middle of the championship in New Caledonia,” he said.
“We focused a lot on our competitors and our mentality, and we’re trying to bring the group together to get to know each other as quickly as possible, so they can play together,” explained Tagawa.
Meanwhile Vanuatu coach Paul Munster says he only had limited time with his players and his main focus is to work on the basics with them.
We have an issue with our players because they are still in school, they have exams so the timing of the exams is not what I would like to have right now,” he lamented.
We’ve only had maybe two and a half, three weeks with them, not so long so I have to do what I can do with these players right now, just train them hard, get the fitness level up and get them to work as a team,” Munster said.
Despite the setbacks Vanuatu’s coach from Northern Ireland has welcomed the tournament and the development initiatives.
“Yeah we have a lot of talented players right now, it’ s about time to get them involved as much as possible. It’s not so much about winning, it’s about playing as a team and also individual performances,” he said.
Ahead of the opening match against New Caledonia, Munster says his main attention is on his own players rather than the opposition.
“To be honest in the first game I’m going to be focussed on us, I’m not going to be so focussed on the other team. I haven’t seen them play before, I’ve seen them in town actually, big team, physical team so I have an idea how will they play but this is a development for our players, how are they going to develop, so Im focossed on my team,” the Vanuatu coach explained.
Tahiti vs Papua New Guinea
Thursday 15 August
Port Vila, Vanuatu
Referee: Veer SINGH (FIJ)
Assistant Referee 1: Denson SALE (VAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Marc SINYEUE (NCL)
Fourth Official: Sione MAU (ASA)
Fifth Official: Ben Aukwai (SOL)
Tahiti: 1. Mael WILLIAMS (GK) 2. Takai SCHMIT (DF) 3. Honoura MARAETEFAU (DF) 4. Manatini SIENNE (DF) 5. Manuarii VAHIRUA (DF) 6. Mata ANDRE-FOUET (MF) 7. Tonitini CHUNG (FW) 8. Heealii AMARU (MF) 9. Ariiura LABASTE (FW) 10.Tehauarii HOLOZET (MF) 11. Paofai TERIITEMATAUA (FW) 12. Tehotu GITTON (FW) 13. Denji KAIHA (FW) 14. Heihau HANERE (MF) 15. Noah AUSSILLOUS (DF) 16. Anapa DEBRUYNE (GK) 17. Sofiene BOUKROUMA (MF) 18. Tanaoa HIOE (MF) 19. Maui HOURTAL (MF) 26. Terehau CHAN (GK)
Head Coach: Vatea TERAI (TAH)
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)
New Caledonia vs. Vanuatu
Thursday 15 August
Port Vila, Vanuatu
Referee: Sione LELENGA (TGA)
Assistant Referee 1: Malaetala SALANOA (SAM)
Assistant Referee 2: Edward COOK (NZL)
Fourth Official: Rani PERRY (TAH)
Fifth Official:Roger ADAMS (PNG)
New Caledonia: 1. Gaizka IPEZE (GK) 2. Georges WAKANUMUNE (DF) 3. Jimmy WAUNIE (DF) 4. Willy READ (DF) 5. Kiam WANESSE (DF) 6. Eric TEIN (MF) 7. Roberto WAIA (MF) 8. Yoan BEARUNE (MF) 9. Lues WAYA (FW) 10. Jacques WATRONE (MF) 11. Luc POUGIN (FW) 12. Fernand NEDEA (DF) 13. Issarael WANESSE (MF) 14. Rayan OUE (FW) 15. Jean-Pierre ENOKA (FW) 20. Yohan BOA (FW) 17. Alan HNAWEO (FW) 18. Kirvin KATRAWA (MF) 19. David POUYA (FW) 16. Malcom JUNI (GK)
Head Coach: Head Coach: Felix TAGAWA (NCL)
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)