Jean-Philippe Saïko is back in New Caledonian football – the striker will play for Mobil Super Ligue AS Lössi after a successful New Zealand campaign for Tasman United. The New Caledonian international has decided to play for Lössi, but the reasons are not just in football: the player cannot return to New Zealand because the country’s international borders are still closed to prevent COVID-19 from returning to the country.
“It happened when I came to New Caledonia in March in order to travel to Europe to play an international friendly,” said Saïko. The friendly against Estonia was cancelled, the borders of New “It happened when I came to New Caledonia in March to travel to Europe for an international friendly match,” Jean-Philippe Saïko said. The friendly match against Estonia was cancelled, New Zealand’s borders were closed and Saïko was unable to return to the country. “I asked for Tasman and North Wellington if I could play here for AS Lössi during this time. I have to wait for my return so I can keep fit,” the player explained. Saïko was due to play for North Wellington in the Central League during the New Zealand winter season – he played for Tasman United in the ISPS Handa Premiership and was the team’s top scorer this season.
The striker also mentioned teams such as AS Tiga and AS Magenta asked him to join their squad for the Mobil Super Ligue, which is due to return in August this year. “I turned down the opportunity to play for AS Tiga and AS Magenta. I wanted to play for AS Lössi because they are from the island where I come from,” the striker explained.
Saïko also said he expected to return to North Wellington to help them in the Central League, but it is uncertain whether New Zealand’s borders would be reopened soon or not. “If it opens before September I will go to Wellington, if not I will move back to Nelson to play for Tasman in the summer,” the New Caledonian international said.
Saïko already played eleven times for New Caledonia and helped them to earn silver in the last edition of the Pacific Games held in Samoa in 2019. The striker impressed in his first season in New Zealand, being the most influential player of Tasman United in their best ever campaign at ISPS Handa Premiership.