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.
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)