Vanuatu was knocked-out of the U-17 OFC Championship by New Zealand this Sunday (22th Jan) ended their dreams to take part in the U-17 World Cup to be held in Peru this year. This would be the second time Vanuatu would take part in a FIFA tournament, but they could fo through the strong New Zealand side in order to play a decisive semifinal match.
But the Ni-Vanuatu has more to celebrate rather to be sad: indeed, they lost, they are not progressing to the semifinals, but as said by head coach Emerson Alcântara after the match: “The most important is the development of the players to their senior team“, said the Brazilian coach.
Vanuatu must be proud of their young boys: they were able to hold New Zealand – counting on players based in European football and Australia – by 92 minutes. The U-17 side of New Zealand was only able to surpass Joseph Nakou after a penalty-kick.
It is important to mention that Augustine Chilia and Romain Luake had clear scoring chances there were wasted in the first half. Yan Chilia was childishly sent off at the starting minutes of the second half, forcing Vanuatu to completely abdicate to attack and only to focus in defense. It worked until the penalty, if it was not for it, the story of the game could end up differently.
Players such as Timothy Arukesa, Albert Timothy and Juniermo Loli were very solid in defense; while Augustine Chilia and especially Romain Luake sparked a lot of creativity upfront and confirmed their are raw diamonds to be cut for the future of Vanuatu football.