After ten years Tahiti hopes to retake continental glory

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Tahiti is one of the most successful football nations in Oceania and always gets special attention due to being the only non-New Zealand/Australia team to have won the OFC Nations Cup.

Ten years later, the Toa Aito wants to repeat the 2012 OFC Nations Cup success that shocked the world and, this time, qualify for the intercontinental playoffs.

The squad of 25 players that was called up by Samuel Garcia has a mix of experience and youth having four players who were at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 in Brazil- Teaonui Tehau, Alvin Tehau, Heimano Bourebare and Yohann Tihoni – and also the beach soccer star Raimana Li Fung Kuee who was bronze boot winner of the 2013 World Cup. The squad also includes five players who played at the 2019 U-20 World Cup in Poland – Mauri Heitaa, Terai Bremond, Eddy Kaspard, Roonui Tehau and Tutehau Tufariua.

The Tahitian squad done their preparation in France until March 10th, when they traveled to Qatar. On French soil they collect a loss to Cognac and a draw against CONIFA member Occitania.

Tahiti playing against Cognac – Maëlle F

The coach:

Samuel Garcia – who also coaches AS Vénus – took over the Tahitian national team in 2018 and was in charge of Toa Aito at the 2019 Pacific Games, managing to win three matches but failing to lead the team in medal contention. His plans for Tahiti in Qatar are big and he guarantees that the team will fight for a playoff spot, his experience as a player can be fundamental for the Polynesians’ triumph. Oceania Football Center already interviewed Samuel Garcia, check it out: Samuel Garcia: the leader of Tahiti National Team

The stars:

Today it is impossible to talk about the best strikers in Oceania without mentioning Teaonui Tehau, the 29-year-old forward has accumulated consecutive seasons at the top of the Ligue 1 scoring charts and has been the captain of the Tahiti national team since 2017. Currently he is again on top of the goalscorers list in the main Tahitian Football league with 18 goals followed by his teammate – both in club and national team duties – Roonui Tehau who has 12 goals scored. In 2019 his achievements went beyond the borders of Oceania when he was the highest scoring player of the year, and soon after in 2020 having the chance to do a trial in the Netherlands at a third division club.

Teaonui Tehau

Another player we cannot forget to mention is Li Fung Kuee, the Tahitian beach soccer star returns to play an official match for the national team after 15 years. His achievements in the football pitch include being two-time top scorer in the Tahitian Ligue 1 and helping Pirae beat New Zealand giants Waitakere United to advance to the 2013-14 OFC Champions League semi-final. His powerful left foot could make the difference for Tahiti in Qatar.

The Youth:

Roonui Tehau is a special player, today he is second on Tahiti’s Ligue 1 top scorers list, at only 22 years old. The attacking midfielder has the maturity of an older player, he drives the ball well and knows very well how to set plays. He captained the Tahitian national team at the 2019 U-20 World Cup and is receiving his first call-up to the senior national team.

Roonui Tehau vs Colombia in the U-20 World Cup – FIFA Media

Another great promise of Tahitian football that will be with the senior national team is Terai Bremond, a former member of France’s Toulouse. The midfielder is very talented, his passing is very good, and he could be an interesting weapon for Samuel Garcia. You can check the full Tahiti list by clicking here.

Tahiti is one of the favorites to go through in Group A alongside Solomon Islands and Vanuatu – while Cook Islands are rated as underdogs.

Tahiti will play their first match on 17th March against Vanuatu at the Grand Hamad Stadium.

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