Vanuatu team that will be playing against Estonia tomorrow and at the Pacific Mini Games next month has been announced by the Vanuatu Football Federation (VFF) this week.
The team comprises of 11 Vanuatu U20 players that played in the 2017 Korea FIFA U20 World Cup.
The sheer number of youth players show that VFF is using this tournament as a stepping stone towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the 2019 Pacific Mini Games in Samoa.
Another factor contributing to the high number of youth players in the team, is that when VFF called for the pre squad training, majority of players that responded to the call were Vanuatu U20 players, with the senior and U23 showing poor turnout.
Since time was not on VFF’s side, the team management had to make a choice there and then.
Vanuatu U20 turned out to be the team that had more FIFA matches, and played together for a period of three months or so outside of the country, while the senior national team only had one friendly this year.
When the team went over to Australia this month for the 2 weeks preparation, they lost 3 matches with A League Outfits Youth Teams and drew the last match against a New South Wales Premier League Club.
With the results not really in favour of the Vanuatu side, the Management had to make a couple of changes and add several senior and youth players into the mix ready for the match tomorrow with Estonia, which will determine who will be the starters at Pacific Games next month.
Of all the players in the lineup, only Chikau Mansale and Michel Kaltak are the last remaining senior players that played along the likes of Moise Poida and current Head Coach, Etienne Mermer.
For Vanuatu prolific midfielder John Alick, who has just returned after a stint with Solomon Warriors side, this will be his very first outing with a senior team in a regional tournament.
The Vanuatu team for Estonia and Pacific Mini Games are:
1- Chikau Mansale (Tupuji Imere FC)
2- Dick Taiwia (Ifira Black Bird FC)
3- Kalo Firiam (Tafea FC)
4- Lucien Hinge (Tafea FC)
5- Jason Thomas (Solomon Warriors)
6- Michel Kaltak (Erakor Golden Star)
7- Gordshem Sahtjen Dona (BSP Amicale FC)
8- Joseph Iaruel (Shepherds United FC)
9- Selwyn Vatu (Shepherds United FC
10- Jason Timatua (Shepherds United FC)
11- Jacky Ruben (Erakor Golden Star FC)
12- Ronaldo Wilkins (Shepherds United FC)
13- Elkington Molivakarua (Tupuji Imere FC)
14- John Well Wohale (Shepherds United FC)
15- John Alick (Erakor Golden Star FC)
16- Bong Kalo (FC Ascona)
17- Jonathan Spokey Jack (Shepherds United FC)
18- Claude Aru (Shepherds United FC)
19- Alex Saniel (Shepherds United)
20- Azaraiah Kenneth (Tupuji Imere FC)
21- Kensi Tangis (BSP Amicale FC)
22- Tony Kaltak (Erakor Golden Star FC)
23- Bernard Daniel (Erakor Golden Star FC)
Team Manager- Peter Takaro
Head Coach- Etienne Mermer
Assistant Coach- Francois Sakama
Goal Keeper Coach- Jimmy Obed
Assistant Goal Keeper Coach- Jean Yves Galinie
Physio- Albert Kaiapam