Tahiti beach soccer legend takes charge of the national team on grass

Naea Bennett has been appointed as interim coach for the Tahiti Men’s National Team for the two friendlies against New Caledonia.

Naea Bennett
Naea Bennett is mostly known for his acrobatics on the sand (Photo credit: FIFA.com)

Bennett who has been part of all of his country’s four trips to the Beach Soccer World Cup and scored in all four of them was appointed as interim coach last week. He succeeds Ludovic Graugnard.

The former captain of the Tahiti beach soccer team, Tiki Toa, or the Warrior Gods, says the opportunity came up when he was in Pirae to oversee the construction of a new beach soccer stadium and was asked because there was no other suitable candidate at the time.

Despite his name being mostly linked with the sand in recent times he has plenty of experience on the grass as well, before fully focusing on beach soccer in 2010 he was captain of the boys on grass and the 40-year-old has 16 caps for the national team, Toa Aito, the Iron Warriors.

Tahiti will play a doubleheader friendly against New Caledonia on March 20th and 23rd and there are several beach soccer veterans in Bennett’s squad.

See the full squad below

In goal the experienced Jonathan Torohia and Franck Revel have been called up while Raimana Li Fung Kuee, Heiarii Tavanae, Rainui Tze Yu and Ariihau Teriitau are the outfielders with experience from the beach in the 27-man squad.

Bennett isn’t sure what will happen if no coach has been appointed when the preparations start for the beach soccer team ahead of the OFC Beach Soccer Championship later this year where he is now a mentor but says they will cross that bridge when they come to it.

Tahiti’s squad for the two matches against New Caledonia:

Goalkeepers: Franck Revel, Benjamin Tardivel, Jonathan Torohia

Defenders: Marama Amau, Matatia Paama, Huimana Parker, Teinaore Seino, Angelo Tchen, Hennel Tehaamoana, Mauarii Tehina, Ariihau Teriitau, Viritua Tiaiho, Heinui Kwong

Midfielders: Gervais Chan Kat, Sylvain Graglia, Raimana Li Fung Kuee, Heirauarii Salem, Sandro Tau, Heirauarii Salem, Sandro Tau, Heiarii Tavanae, Tamatoa Tetauira, Marama Vahirua, Hitinui Vernaudon, Jay Warren

Forwards: Teaonui Tehau, Jimmy Tepa, Yohann Tihoni, Rainui Tze Yu

Author: Ola Bjerkevoll

A passion for everything football and especially in Oceania. Owner of Football in Oceania.

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