Papua New Guinea U18 football coach Anthony Pakakota said his boys are all excited and set to depart for Vanuatu on Tuesday to take part in the inaugural OFC Youth Development Tournament 2019.
“We have been training for the past four weeks and I’m happy with the preparation and the progress so far,” Pakakota said.
“Our focus has been on improving our structural play. The boys picked up well and I’m confident we will be competitive out there.”
“The core of the team is made up of boys which took part in the qualifiers for the U17 World Cup last year. We’re just doing few changes and added a few new players to blend them with the overall structure.”
Pakakota knows that the tournament is a development tournament, however he was planning to use it as his players 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 learnt into the tournament.”
Pakakota’s boys will play their first match against Tahiti on Thursday at Koman Stadium in Port Vila.
Papua New Guinea has been drawn alongside Tahiti and Estonia in Group A while Group B is made up of New Caledonia, India and host Vanuatu.
The U-18 tournament is being organized with UEFA through UEFA Assist Programme, with the focus not on winning a title, but on the development aspects an international event can provide.
The aim is to positively impact the players, coaches and referees and enhance their performance on and off the field, to provide experience, inspire learning and to improve performance at an international level.
For the first edition of the OFC Youth Development Tournament 2019, six teams have been invited to participate in cross-confederation event which will feature not only New Caledonia, Tahiti, Papua New Guinea and host Vanuatu, but also Estonia from Europe and India from Asia.