Despite Tuesday night’s 7-0 loss to Venezuela ending their hopes of continuing past the group stage, debutants Vanuatu will return to their region as heroes at the end of their FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017 campaign on Friday night.
After representing their nation at a World Cup for the first time in history – and giving football giants Mexico a good run for their money – Vanuatu Football Federation president Lambert Maltock was very proud of the performances displayed by the young side.
“We know where we are now on the world map of football,” he said.
“We have to look at it game by game. The first one we already did really well so we are really proud and that’s what we wanted to do for Oceania and Vanuatu.”
Conceding seven goals in one encounter is tough for any team to swallow – especially on the world stage – but Maltock acknowledged that Venezuela were tough and unpredictable opponents.
“We knew already that South American football is very difficult, they’re really good at improvisation. Sometimes they don’t play the plan that they wanted to, they create a new plan,” he said.
“Every time a new player comes in they change the game completely. They all have very good individual skill and that makes the difference.”
Although the OFC U-20 Championship runners-up implemented their game-plans professionally against both Venezuela and Mexico, their lack of experience – leading to small mistakes in decision making – was the only factor that let them down on the day.
“We had a plan to try to play the first half with a strategy that we tried to hold them not to score at the beginning, so we did that well but we made two mistakes in the two corners and we conceded two goals,” he said.
“In the second half when we came back we tried to apply the same system that we played Mexico but Venezuela denied us possession of the ball. They knew that if you give Vanuatu possession, they can create chances to score.”
Although the debutants are out of contention for the Round of 16, their narrow 3-2 loss against Mexico has Vanuatu feeling confident about claiming three points off their final opponents before their FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017 campaign comes to an end.
Vanuatu will play Germany in their final match of Group B at Jeju World Cup Stadium in Korea Republic at 17h00 on 26 May.