OFC: The 12 participating teams have learned what hurdles await them following the draw for the Youth Olympic Football Tournaments Nanjing 2014 which took place on Wednesday in Nanjing, China PR.
Representing Oceania are Papua New Guinea in the Girl’s tournament and Vanuatu in the boy’s – the second consecutive appearance for either side in this competition.
The first ever Youth Olympic Games was held in Singapore in 2010, with Bolivia and Chile taking the honours.
Neither side will be back to defend their title and with the draw out of the way, Oceania’s representatives can now focus on the task at hand.
Vanuatu will play off in Group D against Cape Verde Islands and Korea Republic while Papua New Guinea have found themselves drawn in Group A alongside Venezuela and Slovakia.
After finishing fifth in 2010 under then coach Etienne Mermer, this Vanuatu squad will like their chances of improving on that with a fresh group of players and OFC B Licence accredited coach Moise Poida at the helm.
The side got off to a difficult start in Singapore, losing to eventual winners Bolivia 2-0 in their opening match. However a great effort against Haiti finished just 2-1 before they ended the tournament on a high with a 2-0 victory over Zimbabwe.
The majority of those players were attending the Teouma Academy, while this time 80 per cent of the players are involved in the Vanuatu Football Federation’s Centre of Excellence programme with the remainder coming from the Academy.
In Papua New Guinea it is a similar story, with head coach Margaret Aka having been involved in the Development Centre and Centres of Excellence as a volunteer for some time.
Like their male counterparts, Papua New Guinea will also be looking to prove that the development programmes being implemented are working.
In 2010 the side finished in sixth place, but it came down to the wire.
Their opener was a narrow 1-0 loss to Iran before they were well beaten 4-0 by Turkey. The final match saw Papua New Guinea hold Trinidad and Tobago to a 0-0, but they were knocked out of fifth place after losing 4-2 in the penalty shootout.
As in the previous edition, the football competitions are the first sports to kick off in the Youth Olympic Games, with the girls’ tournament commencing on 14 August, two days prior to the opening ceremony, and lasting 12 days until 26 August. The boys’ competition runs from 15-27 August.