Both Vanuatu and PNG will miss their first match of the ongoing OFC U-19 Championship in Tahiti.
The news was announced just hours prior to the teams’ first matches.
Vanuatu had been due to play New Caledonia in the first Group C clash on Thursday, September 8 at 2pm local Tahiti time, while Papua New Guinea were scheduled to play the tournament’s first Group B match against Fiji on the same day at 5pm local time.
“The matter is now being referred to the appropriate bodies,” the OFC wrote in a press release.
No explanation was given for the situation by the OFC, however, the Vanuatu Football Federation gave an explanation in a separate press release.
The team did not receive all the visas required to travel to Tahiti. At first they only received visas for Tahiti and missing visas for New Zealand.
- A) Passports were applied for but only arrived on Thursday 1st September 2022. Currently, there is a issue of passports since the opening of borders in July 2022. This is well understood.
- B) Visas for Tahiti were ready on the 2nd of September 2022.
- C) NZ visas did not arrive for the Saturday 3rd September 2022 flight.
- D) NZ visas arrived on Wednesday 7th September however after the flight time of 7 am in Port Vila.”
The VFF states they also checked the opportunities to charter a flight with Air Vanuatu to avoid landing in New Zealand, but that it was not possible.
The Vanuatu team are set to get to Tahiti in time to play Samoa on the 11th of September.
The Papua New Guinea Football Association has so far not commented on the matter.
The OFC U-19 Championship startet wednesday local time, with the Solomon Islands beating American Samoa 6-0 and New Zealand beating the Cook Islands 8-0.