Fiji

Weekend Guide 27.5.2016 - Oceania Special - Goodbye 2015/16!

Yes, it's the end of May, and it means that the Weekend Guide will take his break as the season is done. But don't worry, we would not leave you like this in empty hands - a special guide dedicated to the opening games of the first international tournament this summer – the OFC Nations Cup. All the matches will take place at Sir Johan Guise Stadium in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

(All the hours are in CET local time)

Game 1

What? New Zealand – Fiji

When? Saturday, 0800

Why? New Zealand, the dominant national team in Oceania since Australia left to the AFC, try to retain the title after their failure in the previous tournament. Fiji is one of the emerging powers in the continent, after qualifying to the 2015 U-20 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic tournament.

Key Players: In New Zealand squad you can find their hot prospect for the future, Bill Tuiloma, Marseille’s 21 years old midfielder who spent last season on loan to Strasbourg. Iosefo Verevou is just 20 years old but has enough international experience with two goals in the U-20 World Cup.

Pacific Touch:2015 OFC Champions League, the defender of Samoan champions, Lupe ole Soaga can't handle the Fijian runner-ups Ba and their striker Saula Waqa.

Game 2

What? Vanuatu – Solomon Islands

When? Saturday, 1100

Why? In 2004 OFC Nations Cup, Solomon Islands gained a surprising draw against Australia in the final game, which led them to the 2nd place ahead of New Zealand. Vanuatu's football is making a great progress, as their leading team Amicale qualified to the Champions League final twice in last few years. There is certainly a hope that the national team will do the same.

Key Players: Jean Kaltack scored 9 goals in 8 caps as Vanuatu international player, but he well remembered due to his enormous performance with 16 goals while winning 46:0 against Micronesia in the Pacific Games last year. Henry Fa'arodo playing for Solomon Islands since 2002 and he can't be stopped as he’s about to break the caps record for.

Pacific Touch: 2016 OFC Futsal Championship, in the last match against Fiji, the Solomon Islands showed to everyone why they are the Oceania champions 5 times by now.

Game 3

What? Papua New Guinea – New Caledonia

When? Sunday, 0800

Why? The host nation will try to show their skills and win an OFC Nations Cup match for the first time since 1980, under the guidance of the Danish manager Flemming Serritslev. New Caledonia still has memories from their sensational win against New Zealand in the last tournament semifinals.

Key Players: 21 years old Alwin Komolong played for all the youth level teams and is ready for his senior debut cap. He is the only player in his team playing abroad, as he plays for Northern Kentucky University team. As a French Oversea Department, New Caledonia have the midfielder César Zeoula, who plays since 2011 in Stade Lavallois of the French Ligue 2.

Pacific Touch: 2013 OFC U-17 Championship, it's not so common to see a Papua New Guinea victory, but Nicky Benjamin made his team dream a bit before conceding the equalizer.

Game 4

What? Tahiti – Samoa

When? Saturday, 1100

Why? Four years ago, Tahiti won a historical title, after defeating New Caledonia 1:0. Now they wish to have another sensational tournament. Samoa qualified through the first round, clinching their spot by goal difference over American Samoa and Cook Islands.

Key Players: The Tahitian veteran striker, Steevy Chong Hue, is still here and wants to score 4 goals in this tournament in order to become the national team all-time top scorer. Andrew Mobberly was the leading name in the first round for Samoa, as he also plays for the New Zealand top-tier side, Southern United.

Pacific Touch: 2015 OFC U-20 Women's Championship, Vanuatu leads 3:2 against Samoa, and then, in the 96th minute, Matalena Daniels took this free kick.

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Thumbnail photo by Oceania Football Confederation (OFC)