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Fijian Coach Wary Of Vanuatu

Fijian Coach Wary Of Vanuatu
From left; Vodafone Fijian Under-19 football captain Savenaca Baledrokadroka, head coach Bal Reddy, Solomon Islands U19 coach Batram Suri, captain John Aeta in Papeete in Tahiti on August 4, 2018. Photo: OFC Media
August 06
17:22 2018

Four Melanesian nations will get their first taste of the Oceania Football Confederation Under-19 Championship when Group B gets underway today at the Stade Fautaua in Papeete, Tahiti .

New Caledonia and Solomon Islands will open the day’s action before Vanuatu take on Fiji in the evening match.

The Vodafone Fijian U19 side have opted to keep a low profile despite being billed favourites to win the encounter.

Fijian U19 coach Bal Reddy said they are not going to take Vanuatu lightly as they anticipate a tough match.

“I think Vanuatu has always been a real force in OFC,” Reddy told OFC Media.

“With all due respect to Vanuatu, I know they will be up there because they qualified for the last world cup.

“They’ve tasted victory once and they’ll be coming out fighting and I think they’ll be a good team to play with.”

Reddy also acknowledged his side has had a good build-up to their opening match thanks to a short tour of Australia ahead of their arrival in Tahiti.

“It was a good learning experience and good exposure for the boys. Being exposed to his level ahead of the tournament and having a friendly was a big asset to us.”

 

RIGHT MIX

New Caledonia come into the competition hoping to replicate the success of the national U17 squad who qualified for the nation’s first FIFA tournament when they made it to the semi-finals of the regional competition in February, last year. “We’re here with a young group that came in 2017 with the U17 and we’re back here again with the U19 national team,” coach Felix Tagawa said.

The Hienghene Sport coach and former international said the unity in the group is strong despite having a range of backgrounds in the squad.

“We have a good amount of diversity in our players – we have Caledonians, French, the game is mixed and we’ve been able to link the two groups well.

“We’re strong in attack, we’re potent and we’ll try to leverage that.”

 

SURI RETURNS

Solomon Islands are renowned for their unpredictable talent though Batram Suri, another former international, has been working hard on harnessing that to create a strong collective side.

“The boys have prepared well for this tournament. If you look in this competition, every country has its own goals and aims to achieve, that is, to qualify for the world cup – us too,” Suri said.

“To play against New Caledonia is always a challenge for us.

“They can beat us, we can beat them, but most times they beat us. We are here to challenge any team ahead of us, especially in our group.”

 

 -Edited by Osea Bola

leonec@fijisun.com.fj

 

 

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