Experienced trio named as Oceania’s referee representatives

Abdelkader Zitouni from Tahiti, Tonga’s Folio Moeaki and Bernard Mutukera from the Solomon Islands will be the officiating team from Oceania for the U20 World Cup in Poland in May.

Kader Zitouni
Kader Zitouni (Photo credit: FIFA via Getty)

The trio, where Zitouni is the head referee with Moeaki and Mutukera running the lines, have been called up for another international tournament after first featuring as a team at the U17 World Cup in India in 2017. David Yareboinen from Papua New Guinea will be OFC’s support referee, or fourth official as it is commonly known, at the tournament.

At the 2017 tournament, the team took charge of two matches, making their debut in the Group D opening match between North Korea and Niger, which the African side won 1-0. They then officiated in Ghana’s 4-0 demolishing off hosts India in Group A.

Experienced main official

Zitouni has, for a long period now, been one of Oceania’s most respected referees and have several OFC competitions on his CV. He has been a FIFA referee since 2012.

The 37-year-old was first involved at international level when he was appointed for the 2014 Youth Olympic Tournament in Nanjing. Zitouni took charge of the opening game between Honduras and Iceland, before again officiating the Central American side in the fifth-place match against Vanuatu.

His first World Cup outing came when he was named as a support referee for the 2015 U17 World Cup in Chile. He was appointed as OFC’s representative to the 2016 Club World Cup in Japan but did not take charge of a single match. 

His first senior FIFA international competition appearance came when he was appointed a support referee for the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. His first appearance there came in the match between Portugal and Mexico.

The former international turned referee

For Tongan Folio Moeaki the road to refereeing has been a long one. Moeaki is a former Tonga international player and has a long career playing the game. The 36-year-old has been refereeing in the Oceania region since 2012 and have several continental competition on his shoulders.

Moeaki was last assistant referee in the friendly between the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu earlier this month, where the Solomons won 3-1.

As for his colleague on the other sideline, Bernard Mutukera, he has been a FIFA referee since 2015. The youngest of the trio, Mutukera, not yet 30 years of age, has also plenty of experience at the Oceania level.

The U20 World Cup in Poland will kick off on May 23. Tahiti and New Zealand will represent Oceania at the competition.

Embed from Getty Images
The referee team of OFC, Bernard Mutukera (left), Kader Zitouni (second from left in the middle) and Folio Moeaki (right) before the match between North Korea and Niger at the 2017 U17 World Cup

Author: Ola Bjerkevoll

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

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