FFAS > News > Pacific Games New Caledonia 2011 > A.S. drawn in tough groups for New Caledonia

A.S. drawn in tough groups for New Caledonia

OFC Secretary General Tai Nicholas and OFC’s competitions department conducted the draw.
In the men’s division, American Samoa has been grouped with New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Guam and Tuvalu.
Group B consists of Fiji, Tahiti, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands and Kiribati.
“It is good to finally know the teams both of our squads will be going up against in New Caledonia,” said Iuli Alex Godinet, president of FFAS. “It gives our coaches an idea of the kind of strategies to use against these countries and they’re styles of play.”
Both teams are currently training at Pago Park Soccer Stadium five days a week.
Of all the teams grouped with American Samoa in the men’s competition, only Tuvalu is unranked as it is only an associated member with OFC and not affiliated with FIFA. The same applies for Kiribati in Group B.
In the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, New Caledonia tops the group at 158, followed by Vanuatu at 173, Solomon Islands at 180 and Guam at 195. American Samoa sits at 203.
In Group B, Fiji sits at 156, Tahiti at 174, Cook Islands at 195 and Papua New Guinea at 195.
“It’s going to be an uphill battle for us against these top ranked teams,” explained Iofi Lalogafuafua, coach of the men’s squad. “As for the women, three teams pooled with American Samoa in Group A are ranked — Papua New Guinea at 53, Tahiti at 91 and Solomon Islands at 94 — while the territory and New Caledonia are not due to being inactive for more than 18 months.
In Group B, Guam suffers the same fate with under the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking while Tonga is 67, Fiji 81 and Cook Islands 101.
“I’m glad that’s finally out of the way, that we know now who we are up against,” said Uinifareti Aliva, coach of the women’s team.
Both squads will be finalized in two weeks time.
FFAS, after a meeting held between Iuli and its club presidents last month approved the usage of the XIV Pacific Games as warm-ups for the men and women’s teams to prepare for their upcoming qualifiers.
The Pacific Games soccer tournaments were to be used by OFC as the men’s first stage qualification process for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ and likewise for the women to next year’s London 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
However, the inclusion of Guam, a member of the Asian Football Confederation, Tuvalu and Kiribati has negated that pathway. A new road was paved by OFC as its qualification process with both to be completed through stages.
Stage 1 for the men’s qualifiers will have four teams, based on their FIFA/Coca-Cola ranking, compete on November 21-26, 2011 with the winner advancing to the second stage. The four teams are American Samoa, Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga.
From June 1-12, 2012 the second stage kicks off involving Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Vanuatu and stage one’s winner and this tournament is being dubbed as the OFC Nations Cup.
The winner of stage two represents OFC at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup but the top four teams advance to stage three.
Stage three will have these four teams compete in a round-robin home-and-away format to take place between September 7, 2012 and March 26, 2013. Venues for the first three stages have not yet been determined.
The winner of stage three goes on to represent OFC in an intercontinental playoff against a team from the Asian, Central American or South American Confederations. The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ Preliminary Draw will determine the opposing confederation on July 30, 2011.
To participate in London 2012, only OFC Member Associations that have International Olympic Committee membership are eligible for this tournament scheduled for early 2012.
There will be two stages with the first one to be a league format that will include semi-finals and a final. American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu will contest this stage with the winner to play New Zealand in the second stage.
The second stage winner then qualifies for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“We will go out there and perform to best of our abilities and make American Samoa proud, God willing,” Iuli said after learning of the results from the draw and the qualification process.

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