FIFA U-17 World Cup: New Caledonia aim to make impactful debut
New Caledonia have finished second in the OFC U-17 Championship thrice and will look to make a mark in what will be their FIFA U-17 World Cup debut.fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Sep 30, 2017 16:00 IST
New Caledonia are making their debut appearance in the World Cup. They became the sixth current Oceania Football Confederation member to feature in a FIFA World Cup.
‘Les Caguos’ have often made a mark in the OFC U-17 championship, earning a top-four berth in each year of their participation barring 2011.
They earned the fourth place in five times and grabbed a third place finish in the 2009 edition of the tournament. However, their best record remains a second place finish in 2003, 2013 and 2017, the latest chapter of the contest.
A collection of islands tucked away in the Pacific Ocean 1,200km from Australia, New Caledonia was admitted to FIFA in 2004 but the country’s football federation was formed in 1928 with teams from Australia and New Zealand touring it in the decades that followed.
They were ineligible to qualify for the World Cup in 2003 despite reaching their first OFC U-17 final in 2003.
KNOW THE COACH: Dominique Wacalie
At 35, Dominique Wacalie is one of the youngest coaches to be seen marshalling their teams in the U-17 World Cup. The former midfielder, who retired in 2014 having played for long in France’s lower tiers, replaced Michael Clarque in April 2017.
PASSAGE TO INDIA: New Caledonia had to work hard at the 2017 OFC U-17 to earn their ticket to India, achieving their goal before a 7-0 drubbing by New Zealand.
Results in OFC U-17: Bt Papua New Guinea 3-2; drew with Tahiti 1-1; bt Vanuatu 3-2 (group stage); bt Cuba 7-1; bt Solomon Islands 3-2 (Semi-finals); lost to New Zealand 7-0 (final)
PAST U-17 PERFORMANCE: First-time qualifiers.
Name: Sidri Cameron Wadenges
Club: AS Magenta
Why he is special: Son of former international Georges Wadenges, he has had four caps for the national team and shone at the OFC U-17 Cup in February this year, where New Caledonia ended up runners-up. He has been like a barrier for opponents in local leagues.
Name: Raoul Stephane Wenisso
Club: Gaitcha FCN
Why he is special: His ball control at fast pace makes him a potential threat for opponents, but has not been among the goal-scorers for New Caledonia’s U-17 international team.
Name: Vita Nephi Longue
Club: Paita FC
Why he is special: In the absence of OFC U-17 World Cup star midfielder Paul Gope-Fenepej, the team is likely to depend on him upfront. A slow starter, he stepped up his game to score the match winner against Solomon Islands in the last OFC Cup semis.