New Caledonia will be tough: Couch

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BY ROMULUS HUTA

The heads of the national under-19 soccer team. From left – Assistant Coach Eddie Rukumana, Captain John Aeta and Head Coach Batram Suri.

THE head coach of the national under-19 soccer team said their opening match of the OFC Under-19 Championship in Tahiti against New Caledonia will be tough.

The match is scheduled for August 6 in Papeete.

Head coach Batram Suri told the media yesterday that a good outcome of the first match would really define their pathway in the competition and so as set the pace for them.

“The outcome of our first match would set the pace for us.

“If we win or draw the first match, then it shows we can qualify into the semis.

“Our first match against New Caledonia will not be that easy.

“When you look at the history, New Caledonia is always tough but we are going to challenge them as they fear us as well.

“Whenever New Caledonia plays against Solomon Islands, they would always want a win against us and the same goes for Solomon Islands.

“Going into the competition, Solomon Islands is a team to fear and beat.

“But I must say we are going in under the ‘underdog’ status but most of all going out to make a challenge for a win.

“If we cannot win and make it through then we have to work on something about it,” he said.

Captain John Aeta is taking on the captaincy role for the second consecutive time given he also led the under-17 side in last year’s championship in Tahiti where they went down to a much-more likely the same New Caledonian side in the semifinals.

Their loss also denied them a place in the finals as well as a much-awaited maiden qualification into the under-17 world cup.

Still having vivid memories of the pain felt after the loss last year, Aeta said: “This will be the second time to captain any national side and it’s not easy.

“I hold so much emotions heading into the first fixture against New Caledonia.

“During last year’s under-17 championship, we lost to them in the semi-finals and for me it will not be easy.

“I’m happy to play against them and put up a good fight,” the captain stressed.

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