Tiny New Caledonia harbours gigantic dream at U-17 World Cup

first_imgBy Abhishek Hore New Delhi, Apr 28 (PTI) A population of about 2.70 lakh will make New Caledonia the smallest nation ever to play in a FIFA World Cup when it turns up for the U-17 global event in India later this year. And coach Dominique Wacalie is keen that the French territory is there not just to make up the numbers. “Our ambition is to represent our country and our football at the highest level. Our intent is to put in our best and enjoy every moment. We dont want to be spectators come October. We want to be competitive,” Wacalie told PTI in an interview. Jamaica (1998), Kuwait (1982), Slovenia (2002) and Trinidad and Tobago (2006) are some of the smaller nations to have played in the World Cup. Wacalie assumed the reins from Michael Clarque recently, with the latter having led the team through their historic qualification campaign earlier in the year. “Our preparations started recently. The first two-week camp was held this month at the FCF technical centre. We started the foundation work and we intend to continue working hard on our game-plan,” the coach said about his stint. Wacalie spoke briefly about his teams style of play. “Our players are typically Oceanian. They like to play a quick and lively style. We have to work on our weaknesses as well, especially for the U-17 World Cup, specifically our concentration for an entire match. “But I do believe we can get there, the squad is one with a great state of mind, they share great solidarity on and off the pitch, which reflects with our Oceania values.” He admitted there is still a long way to go for the Pacific island nation, famous for its beaches and marine life. “Even though we have qualified, there is still plenty of work that needs to be done. We are trying to let the boys know too that the work isnt complete, a World Cup demands a great deal out of you. “We will prepare to the best of our abilities and ensure that we can face the demand and the rigour that will be in store for us,” said the coach. As per a 2015 census, New Caledonias population stood at 2,73,000. Since this is the island nations maiden FIFA World Cup, the mood at the camp is very different. “Were very proud. Slowly people will become aware of New Caledonias participation it what will be our first FIFA World Cup. Its something new, as no other team has managed to take part before. We do watch World Cups on TV, but we have only followed it from a distance so far. “To be able to actually participate and be present is different. The chance to participate in a FIFA World Cup isnt available to everyone. We know the pressure will increase but we want to maximise on this opportunity and fully utilise it.” Asked if football is a popular sport in New Caledonia, Wacalie responded in the positive. “Everyone watches football in New Caledonia and its indeed a popular sport. In fact, football plays a very pivotal sport in our society as it sort of forms the anchor, especially in villages. Sport brings us all together, its the medium for us to share our values.” PTI AH CM CMadvertisementlast_img

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