Vanuatu have yet to score after two matches at the Pacific Games, despite creating a mountain of chances. Head coach Paul Munster will hope that can change against minnows Tonga on Monday local time.
Words by Ola Bjerkevoll, interview by Richard Ewart
“We knew we were going to give the New Zealand boys a tough game. And to be honest, at the start, we should have had a blatant penalty and the ref just totally ignored it. I just told the lads to keep fighting and keep doing what they’ve been doing,” Munster told Football in Oceania following Vanuatu’s 0-0 draw with New Zealand on Friday.
“We always get chances, we always create from set plays. We’re strong at that, in our last few games we scored on set plays, but today it just didn’t go in. I’m asking for the video of it because there were so many chances that half of them, I don’t remember anymore,” he said.
Looking to the future he admits it’s tough only having players in for a few weeks at a time and that he has to start from scratch a lot.
“When I have them in camp it’s only for a week or two and then they go back to their clubs. I only have two players right now who play outside [Mitch Cooper and Brian Kaltak presumably, ed.], the rest go back into the Port Vila league and I’m trying to get the players to play outside, more in a professional environment.
“When I get them in you have to start them back up to basics to what I’m doing, because the level back home, the training and things like that, it’s low. You can see it here as well. That’s why, when I have them in I do double sessions, two-hour sessions also working with their fitness,” he says.
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The lack of goals for the team in yellow, he believes is down to the quality of the strikers and that many of his players are new to this level of competition.
“The attacking players, the strikers we have, they’re playing locally for a reason, so I have to work with them.
“Many of them have never played in the national team so I’m giving players experience also to play at the level right now. Honestly, they’re not there yet, it will take time, because Vanuatu is a small country, I don’t have bigger selection like for example New Zealand or PNG. I have to take what I have.”
The talks of a professional league in Vanuatu Munster believes is just that, talks, until it becomes reality. It would certainly help his job though.
“It would be much better and easier, for me it means when I get them into camp I won’t have to start, let’s call it, down to the basics, just basic technical stuff. But 2021, that’s talk. I’ve seen in football, how people talk, but for me it’s all about action. Get it done as quick as possible, it’s the players we need to help.
“I want these boys to play outside, I want them to be successful in their footballing career and also in their lives. I’m in this, right now with the seniors and when we go back it’s straight into the Olympic team, I have the U19 and then the U16. I’ve been here four-five months now, there’s lots of work to be done,” Munster says.