Football in Oceania continues to look at the Oceanian countries opposition for the U17 World Cup in India. Today we look at the debutants from New Caledonia.
New Caledonia would always be handed a tough group but they may not have gotten as tough a group as they could. The samurais of Japan and Honduras will prove a stern test while the big match for New Caledonia will be against their big brother France who they face in the very first match. So, without further ado, here’s what you need to know about New Caledonia’s opposition.
READ MORE: Part 1: New Zealand’s opposition
So. France. The country that still holds it hand over New Caledonia, wich they have been doing since 1853, were drawn in the same group and they will be the first test for the young New Caledonians at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Sunday. But this French team is not the best thing ever.
They had to go via the play-off match in the European Championship after losing to Hungary in the group stage opener, and barely scraping past Scotland, while the Faroe Island were dispatched easily.
In the quarterfinals, they lost 3-1 to Spain before they once again faced Hungary in the play-off match. A 1-0 win was all they could muster and as mentioned this France squad doesn’t seem that terrifying.
This will be the French team’s fifth trip to the World Cup, which they won in 2001. Since then they haven’t gone further than the quarter-finals and they’ll be keen to rectify that.
But there are still some very interesting players in Les Bleuets, The Little Blues. With many of their players coming from Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon, it’s the latter team that has the two most interesting prospects. Amine Gouiri stole the goal scoring show in the Euros netting eight goals (or nine if you count the one in the play-off, which UEFA doesn’t), but it’s his teammate Willem Geubbels who was the first player born this millennium to appear in a Ligue 1 match when he came on in the 84th minute for Lyon against Dijon on the 23rd of September.
NEW CALEDONIA – FRANCE: SUNDAY 8TH OCTOBER 17:00 LOCAL TIME
The Hondurans qualified through the CONCACAF Championship by finishing second in the Classification stage behind the USA. The tournament started poorly as they lost to hosts Panama in the group stage opener. Then things got better as Curacao and Haiti were dispatched 3-0 and 3-1 respectively, and La Mini H could celebrate going through to the Classification stage. There they saw thumped Cuba 7-1 before the Americans became too strong and won 3-0. The Americans 6-2 win over Cuba meant that Honduras had to settle for a second place as the US progressed to the final.
Carlos Mejía is the man to look out for in the Mini H’s squad. The winger was in the team of the tournament as well as the top scorer in the tournament with his seven goals. The Hondurans are in their fifth World Cup and will be a difficult opponent for the New Caledonian’s but they are a team New Caledonia could take a point from if they have an off-day.
NEW CALEDONIA – HONDURAS: 11TH OCTOBER 17:00 LOCAL TIME
The Samurai Blue have a very interesting squad with several players who have started playing in the Japanese leagues down in J3, the third tier. One of them, Takefusa Kubo, even represented Japan at the U-20 World Cup back in March and have had a period at Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy. The young striker was only 15 when he played in Korea back in May, he has also played for the Tokyo first team in the J.League Cup.
The best result Japan has had at a World Cup is two quarterfinal visits, in 2011 and when they hosted the tournament in 1993. They are here this year after absolutely demolishing their group in the AFC Championship. Vietnam were seen off 7-0 in the opener before Kyrgyzstan suffered the same fate, losing 8-0. Australia got the better off the three opponents but were also easily defeated, this time 6-0.
The UAE awaited in the quarterfinals and they were beaten 1-0. Then the Japanese offensive was stopped as they were defeated 4-2 in the semi-final of the AFC Championship by eventual winners Iraq thanks to two penalties within the last ten minutes.
NEW CALEDONIA – JAPAN: 14TH OCTOBER 17:00 LOCAL TIME
Embed from Getty Images
Takefusa Kubo in action for Japan against Uruguay in the U-20 World Cup
And in case you’ve missed it, here’s New Caledonia’s squad for the tournament:
1 | Une KECINE | Goalkeeper | 16 years old
2 | Raoul WENISSO | Defender | 17 years old
3 | Josue WELEPANE | Defender | 17 years old
4 | Kiam WANESSE | Defender | 15 years old
5 | Sidri WADENGES | Defender | 17 years old
6 | Neil WAHIOBE | Midfielder | 17 years old
7 | Jekob JENO | Midfielder | 17 years old
8 | Pierre BAKO | Midfielder | 16 years old
9 | Theo BOSSHARD | Forward | 16 years old
10 | Cyril NYIPIE | Midfielder | 17 years old
11 | Titouan RICHARD | Forward | 16 years old
12 | Gale LUEWADIA | Midfielder | 16 years old
13 | Vita LONGUE | Forward | 16 years old
14 | Bernard IWA | Defender | 17 years old
15 | Hnautra ENOKA | Defender | 16 years old
16 | Gaizka IPEZE | Goalkeeper | 16 years old
17 | Paul WANANIJE | Midfielder | 17 years old
18 | Josua HLEMU | Defender | 16 years old
19 | Jules OMEI | Defender | 16 years old
20 | Lionel THAHNAENA | Forward | 16 years old
21 | Robin ESCORNE | Goalkeeper | 16 years old
Football in Oceania wishes New Caledonia the best of luck.