Philemon John eyes Vanuatu Olympic dream

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Philiemon-John.jpgVanuatu Olympic Games coach Philemon John has reduced his forty two strong squad to 30 members for a training camp ahead of the OFC Olympic Games Men’s Qualifying Tournament in March. The squad  features a raft of players with age-group or senior international experience with the mercurial Francois Sakama the star turn. Sakama set the XIII South Pacific Games alight last August with a string of eye-catching performances alongside Fiji-based striker Seule Soromon. But Sakama’s creative talents won’t be isolated.
 P
hilemon John is spoilt for choice in the striking department with the enigmatic one-time Southampton trialist Jean Victor Maleb, Ricky Tari, Fenedy Masauvakalo, Joseph Nimaniau, Brian Melar  and Jeffry Nimaniau have all been capped at senior or age group level. Defensively, Vanuatu can call upon Andrew Chichirua, Joseph Obed, Jeoffrey Gete and Rexly Tarivuti, another group of experienced international players. Whether or not their varied age-group and senior international experiences amount to a cohesive unit will depend much upon the quality of John’s work with the players and his selection process.
 Goalkeepers Alfred Malas and Daniel Mansale continue the fine football family tradition of Vanuatu international goalkeepers Chikau Mansale and David Chilia and midfielder Derek Malas. Len  Merika and Charley Kalnasei round off the glovemen. If Philemon John has one area of his squad causing concern it will be who joins Sakama in the Vanuatu midfield engine room. Michel Kaltak and Antoine Sablan – both graduates of the Vanuatu U-20 campaign last year – are the only recognisable names in an otherwise little know midfield contingent.
Whatever the final squad looks like, Vanuatu appear to have the talent at its disposal to better cope with the rigours of Olympic Games qualification this time around. New Zealand edged
Vanuatu  out of the running four years ago in a thrilling 3-2 victory that ensured the Oly-Whites progressed to the two leg playoff with Australia.
Vanuatu opens its OFC Olympic Games Men’s Football Tournament campaign against Cook Islands on March 1st.

Publié dans Selections

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