We win together or we die together!
As the hours until kick-off to an historic OFC U-17 Championship count down, the young Tahitians waiting for their chance to represent the Fenua with pride are ensuring the bonds between them remain tight.
On Wednesday evening the side spent their first night together as a full squad at the Federation Tahitienne de Football Technical Centre where coach Patrice Flaccadori said their shared objective will assist in forging their bonds.
“We win together or we die together,” Flaccadori told his side during one of their last remaining training sessions before they being their campaign against Vanuatu on Saturday night.
Tama Ura captain Moana Pito said the ambience within the squad itself is incredibly important.
“We are like a big family. We can feel the “mana” as we say here. It’s awesome.”
One of the most experienced members of the squad, the 17-year-old can still recall the disappointment he and his teammates had to endure in 2015 when they lost the final of the OFC U-17 Championship to New Zealand in Pago Pago.
“I was first selected for the U-17 in 2015, and we lost against New Zealand,” he recalled.
“At the time, only the winner of the final qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. I was also selected for the U-20 World Cup qualifier which was held in Vanuatu late last year.”
While both were memorable events for the goalkeeper, this year’s has a special air about it.
“It is always an honour to represent your country, but to be doing it when the competition is at home is something else altogether.
“We will do everything we can to qualify.”
Having spent the past six to seven months training for the event, Pito said the side is keen to get things underway, and eager to show that all that work hasn’t been in vain.
“We have a good chance, we are ready and are just waiting for the first match on Saturday against Vanuatu.
“It’s a good team and they will be a strong opponent, so we will see. We haven’t seen them play yet.”
As a team Tahiti have a goal for what they want to achieve – and Pito says his personal objectives are in line with those of the squad.
“My objective, is to qualify for this World Cup in India, and to try and get noticed over there,” he shared.
“Finally, would like to encourage the whole of Polynesie to come and support us at Stade Mahina on Saturday.”
For further information on football in Tahiti visit: www.ftf.pf