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Tahiti: The South Pacific Minnows

An article of South Pacific side Tahiti

By on Jun 13, 2013   2053 views   0 comments
Football Views - Tahiti: The South Pacific Minnows
With the 2013 Confederations Cup just round the corner, many football fans are wanting to see the likes of Brazil, Italy, Spain and Uruguay all battle to become the champions, to find the very best from around the world. All teams entered had won their confederation's tournament, for Europe the UEFA Cup, for South America the Copa America. Nevertheless, the line up isn't full of world class stars, in unbeatable teams. One team breaking through onto the footballing scene, is Tahiti.

Most fans don't even know where Tahiti is, let alone know what their football team is like. The Team Fenua, as they are commonly known as, are currently ranked at 138th, an appalling position in comparison to other side competing this year. To show the level they play at, Rwanda, Belize and Burma are all sitting above the South Pacific side in the ranking table. Tahiti are going into the competition not just as minnows of group B, but as minnows of the tournament. Tahiti get their first Confederation Cup experience in Belo Horizonte, playing Nigeria, ranked 31st and boasting players such as John Mikel Obi and Efe Ambrose, players with the quality to get past any player, let alone those with the experience, and possibly talent, and of the Tahitians.

However, it only gets worse. Three days later Tahiti travel to Rio, to play the number one country in the world. Lining up some of the world's greatest talent, such as Xavi, Andreas Iniesta, Sergio Ramos and Cesc Fabregas, Spain will be the team everyone wants to beat in the tournament. With 137 teams separating these two in rankings, the match should be Tahiti's toughest ever. Just 9 years ago they lost 10-0 to New Zealand, so what damage could Spain cause in the next week? To finish their group fixtures, which many think will be their last in the competition, Tahiti will face South American side Uruguay. Uruguay are a team underestimated by many, and reached the semi-final of the 2010 World Cup, falling to Netherlands. Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani lead La Celeste, with Diego Forlan only managing the bench in terms of strength. Tahiti certainly have it though, but who do they have to try to become the surprise package of the tournament.

Captain Nicholas Vallar will be a key man for the side if they hope to achieve anything. Vallar has become known as one of the greatest Tahitian centre-backs ever, and was awarded Player of the Tournament at last year's Oceania Nations Cup, which they lifted after beating New Caledonia in the final. Vallar managed to play 36 times for Montpeiller B before deciding to play in Tahiti, where he has become a great. Marama Vahirua is another player who could be the difference between a win and a loss. Marama has some European experience, currently signed to French side Nancy, where he has scored 5 goals in 25 appearances as a striker. The former French U21 national is known in Tahiti for his paddle celebration, in honour of their national sport, and fans will be wanting to see his celebration numerous times across the tournament.

Alvin Tichau is also a player who could be a big difference. The striker is more used to playing for his country, starting a successful career in his country, and already playing 16 times for his national side, scoring 6 goals aged just 24. Tichau may be known by others for what he has done on the pitch, but not necessarily for the right reasons, getting sent off in the 2009 U20 World Cup alongside his brother, who always plays in the national side alongside their other brother, and cousin. Tichau only recently stopped working in the Postal Service though, meaning he may not have the experience needed in a competition like this as a professional footballer.

The country are built around a strong defense, which conceded just five goals in the last Oceania Nations Cup, also keeping clean sheets in both the semi-final and final. On the other hand, they are expected to ditch their usual 4-4-2 formation and take a defense-first approach into Brazil to try to rack up some points. In 1971 they showed they weren't a shy country in front of goal though, being Cook Islands with an outstanding scoreline of 30-0, showing footballers around the world how it is really done in front of goal.

So, with the Confederations Cup approaching, can the minnows be the surprise package, or will Tichau be back home delivering packages sooner than he wants?

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