OFC President Lambert Maltock is confident the OFC Football Development Strategy 2026 will provide the opportunities the region needs to achieve lofty heights.
The strategy aims to see two OFC nations qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2026™, and outlines the concrete steps the OFC Football Development department will put in place over the next six years to make that a reality.
“The OFC vision 2026, to qualify two teams to the 2026 World Cup is our main objective and tournaments like the OFC Youth Development Tournament are part of achieving that objective,” Maltock said.
“At this moment we find it difficult to match up with the international teams outside Oceania. I think we need to accept that there is a deficiency in capacity between the majority of Oceania nations and countries from outside the region.
“We’re limited in capacity, staff, exposure, opportunities. It’s difficult to keep consistency in performances and it’s a fact we have to accept. We can’t always blame the coach, the staff, the players, it’s the environment we live in.
“But we have to keep trying to bridge the gap.”
According to Maltock’s account, the odds are stacked against OFC Member Associations, however with hard work and a little help from its friends, he believes Oceania football can start to even those odds up.
“Having UEFA onboard through the UEFA Assist programme is really significant to us and incredibly important for Oceania football.
“Initially the project was aimed at helping those nations in OFC which had already qualified for a youth world cup. But we wanted to go further and give opportunities to more nations.
“I’m really pleased the initiative has allowed us to give inter-confederation exposure to a wider audience.”
Maltock added that the inaugural OFC Youth Development Tournament is not being hosted in Vanuatu by chance.
“We needed a host and as I was just elected, I thought it would be nice to launch this initiative in my country.
“I hope with the exposure we have given the players and coaches here in Port Vila over the past week will give them more confidence when it counts.”