Wednesday , May 29 2024

Anticipation builds for OFC U-16 Men’s Championship 2024 qualifiers!

Teufaiva Stadium is all set to host it’s third and final tournament of the year, it’ll see four nations grace the turf as they vie for the final spot at the OFC U-16 Men’s Championship in Tahiti in July.

For hosts Tonga, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and American Samoa the U-16 qualifying tournament is the players first real taste of international football, giving them a chance to showcase their talents.

Speaking at the pre-tournament media conference held at the TFA Academy, Tongan Head Coach Timote Molini urged his side to not back down against challenging opposition.

“Our preparation is good, I hope they fight hard, because I know Solomon’s and PNG maybe are far better than Tonga. But to me we are here to compete,” said Molini.

Despite some disruptions in the team’s preparation the Solomon Islands are eager to get back to the main draw of the OFC U-16 Men’s Championship and fight for a spot at the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

But coach Moses Toata has pumped the breaks on any of that talk and is just focused on his team and not what lies too far ahead.

“I think for me the important thing is the preparation of our team, I care more about what my players do than what the opponents can do to us. I we do the right things I know we will win.”

“I am quietly confident with my boys coming into this competition. It’s always important to not be overconfident because we always fear the unknown and that is why we respect each team,” explained Toata.

Papua New Guinea arrived the earliest of the three travelling teams, with first-time national coach Marty Terry wanting to settle his team in, ahead of a crucial qualifying tournament.

They’ll face a tough opening assignment, taking on the Solomon Islands today, but Terry said his side welcome the challenge that lies ahead.

“We think this tournament can really push us to another level and also to qualify for the World Cup and it gives an opportunity to come together and see where we are. That’s why being here to compete with our fellow brothers in this tournament, I think its important we can learn as well,” said Terry.

“To start off well is really important, if we can start off well, we can at least look at where we are going. We know where we are as a team, we’ve prepared well towards this tournament.”

In the later game American Samoa, will take on hosts Tonga, with three of their players having already experienced Teufaiva Stadium with Vaiala Tonga SC at the OFC Men’s Champions League – Qualifying. But they’ll be hoping for a better experience this time around against players of a similar age.

“I think for American Samoa this is really exciting for the boys because we started this group from the grassroots programme. For some of them this is their first time travelling, and it’s a long way from home,” said coach Rupeni Luvu.

“We prepare game by game, we are only concentrating on our first game against the Tonga team. I know that will be playing with their home crowds. But we make sure that the boys are good, we prepare them well to face the home team.”

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