With two places at the FIFA U-17 World Cup up for grabs in this afternoon’s semi-finals the four competing sides are playing for the biggest prize of their lives.
New Caledonia and Solomon Island will open the day’s action at 12pm with one of the two set to qualify for their first FIFA football world cup.
The second semi-final clash will see five-time consecutive champions New Zealand take on Papua New Guinea, who caused a huge upset for hosts Tahiti in their last match of Group B when they fought their way back from 1-0 down at the break to a 2-1 victory.
Despite remaining unbeaten in the group stage of the competition, where they conceded just one goal, New Zealand coach Danny Hay is preparing for a difficult semi-final match against a technically talented and well-rested Papua New Guinea side.
“We know that Papua New Guinea will be a different sort of side, a lot more technical in terms of their style of play. It’s going to be a difficult assignment for us,” he said.
“They’ve had an extra day’s rest so they’re probably well-prepared, whereas our boys have only just come off the field.
“Now it’s just going to be about trying to get in our recovery and then preparing for that massive game.”
Papua New Guinea coach Harrison Kamake isn’t worried about coming up against the competition favourite, taking a relaxed approach to the match as if it was any other game and keeping his team’s focus on their own game plan.
“We are approaching the match like always. Nothing new, no pressure. We’re just looking forward to the game, just as we had with past games,” he said.
“We have not thought much about the World Cup spot, we’ve just been approaching each game as they come.
“We’re looking at one game at a time and over the next couple of days we will prepare to take on New Zealand.”
Although Kamake is feeling calm ahead of their New Zealand clash, he knows his side will miss captain Ricky Wadunah in the centre of the park after the midfielder received a one game suspension for two yellow cards in the group stage.
“It’s a huge blow to the team. With his leadership qualities, the boys are definitely going to miss him but I think we have some good boys that can lead the team,” he said.
“They have the right attitude and they are prepared to take on the game without our captain.”