Archivio mensile:maggio 2012

Top five OFC Nations Cup’s uncapped players abroad

AsianOceanianfootball takes a look at the top five uncapped Oceanian players abroad who could have played in the upcoming edition of continent’s top competition.

Marama Vahirua – AS Monaco – Age: 32

Papeete-born Marama Vahirua’s presence in the tournament could have given a major boost to Tahiti’s hopes of reaching Nations Cup semifinals and subsequently the third round of OFC qualifiers for 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The 32-year-old, who is now plying his trade in France’s second-tier with AS Monaco, is a full Tahitian citizen and despite having represented France at U-21 level, is still eligible to wear the Pacific nation’s shirt. With 309 matches and 69 goals in Ligue 1 with clubs such as Nantes, Nice Lorient and Nancy, Vahirua would have certainly been the most experienced striker of the competition and one of the biggest threats for the opponent defenders. He was awarded the Oceania Footballer of the Year’s trophy in 2005.

Frédéric Piquionne – West Ham United – Age: 33

West Ham United’s Frédéric Piquionne is by far the best footballer New Caledonia has ever produced after 1998 World Cup winner Christian Karembeu. The former Lyon and Saint-Etienne striker counts a cap for France national team in a friendly against Austria in 2007, but it’s unlikely to play again with Les Bleus and technically would have been eligible for his native country after new FIFA permissions of changing alliance if the matches played are only friendlies, as happened with USA’s Jermaine Jones, a former member of Germany national team. A powerful and strong striker, Piquionne has scored 83 league goals in his flourishing European career.

Wesley Lautoa – FC Lorient – Age: 25

New Caledonia have a solid and promising defender in Lorient’s Wesley Lautoa. The 24-year-old centre back was born in France in Epernay but holds New Caledonian passport thanks to his family’s heritage and is regarded as one of the most hopeful continent’s defender in Europe, with All Whites England-based Tommy Smith and Winston Reid. A muscular injury prevented him from playing regularly with his Ligue 1 outfit in his first six months at the club, after moving from second division team Sedan Ardennes in January.

Adrian Mariappa – Watford – Age: 25

Watford captain Adrian Mariappa almost joined Fiji national team for the previous Nations Cup but in the end he decided not to take up the place. The Jamaica international, who made his debut with the Reggae Boyz in a friendly match against Guyana in May, has still a chance to play for his father’s native country but now it seems highly unlikely he will join the team as his international career has just begun. Mariappa has Premier League experience on his shoulders having played 19 matches with Watford in the 2006-07 season, and was close to a return to England’s top flight competition after attracting interest from clubs with the likes of Wigan Athletic and Newcastle. He was voted Watford’s player of the 2011-12 season.

Brad McDonald – Central Coast Mariners – Age: 22

Talented left-back Brad McDonald represents one of Papua New Guinea’s stars of the future. The Kudjip-born defender plays in Australia for A-League Premiership winners and AFC Champions League team Central Coast Mariners, but he’s yet to debut with Graham Arnold’s side as he faces a hard challenge in fighting with the league’s most accomplished left-back Joshua Rose. McDonald made a name for himself in Australia’s top division after a stellar season with axed North Queensland Fury in 2010-11, which allowed him to sign a contract with the New South Wales franchise.

By Christian Rizzitelli

World’s most prolific goalscorer: interview with Aleksandar Duric

For those who follow Asian football the name of Aleksandar Duric has all but to sound familiar. The Singapore international veteran, who has over than 19 seasons of football on his shoulders, is actually the most prolific goalscorer of the world and one of the most feared strikers in the whole Southeast Asian region.

When did you start playing football and how did you manage to play in Singapore?

I started playing in the street with my friends like every kid in Yugoslavia, when I was 7. We played football everywhere, in the street, at school, all the time! Football is life for the country where I come from. My dad was a football player too but never played professional, only at amateur level. I was playing in West Adelaide in 1998 when I got a call from a Singapore team [Tanjong Pagar United] to come and play here, so I first went to the country in 1999.

What helped you most in becoming a professional footballer?

I became a professional player because of my love for this sport. I had a very difficult life when I was young as there was the war in my country, that I left with no money or future. But despite that nodoby really ever helped me with any contract with clubs, I work hard and train all the time and I think I’m a true professional footballer.

Which advice can you give all young boys in Singapore who dream of playing football?

They have only to work hard and never give up. Obviously they must love football because the passion is necessary, then they have to keep believing in themselves.

Are you generally satisfied of your career?

Not really, I’m sad that I didn’t have a shot to play in Europe. I think I could have had more success and more recognition for my achievements if I had played in Europe, but I am still happy for what I have achieved here and where I am now in my career.

What are your thoughts about football in Singapore? And about the S.League?

When I first came to Singapore I was very happy to play in the S.League, there were many talented players and the stardard of football was very high.
Unfortunately over the years this level has started going down because of the lack of support from sponsors, fans, and the football federation. The S.League is a very well organized competition but at the moment there are no enough money and support from government, we lost a lot of fans too recently.

Where should Singapore’s football improve most?

We should try to promote the game more to our youth here, it’s not so easy these days to make good footballers in Singapore as kids are not very keen on sports right now. We need to change it as they’re our future, they must dream of playing professional football.

Do you think there are some players in your country ready to play in Europe?

We have some really promising youngsters but the problem is that all boys must go to the army for two years and losing this amount of training is a huge trouble. But I hope to see one day some Singapore players trying they luck in Europe because I believe we have same good young talents, for example Hariss Harun.

Which is your best highlight with the national team?

My best highlight was when I started playing for Singapore national team in 2007, when I was 37 years old. I scored two goals in my first game, which was against Tajikistan. But of course one of my best moments was beating Malaysia at the World Cup qualifiers.

After hanging up your boots, what would you like to do?

I’d like to stay in football maybe as a coach or technical director. I want to try to find other players like me in Singapore in the next few years, it would be nice if I could coach kids to improve their football skills, they’re our future.

The remotest national football team of the world: Tristan da Cunha

In 1506 the Portuguese sailor Tristão da Cunha sought a little volcanic archipelago made up of only four islands, dispersed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, between South America and Africa.

Because of the scarce geography’s knowledge of that time, Da Cunha was probably unaware to have just discovered the remotest islands of the whole Earth.

Infact these little isles, which subsequently were named “Tristan Da Cunha” in the honor of the Lusitanian mariner by Englishmen, are 2816 km away from South Africa, 3360 km from Argentina and 2430 km from Saint Helena, their closest islands. And between them, there’s only the immense, colossal Ocean.

But Tristão da Cunha could have never imagined that, in this semi-desert island, one day it would have been established the remotest national football team of the planet.

It seems incredible, but football has managed to arrive even there.

The Island

The name Tristan da Cunha represents both the archipelago’s name and its biggest island.

All the inhabitants are concentrated there, mostly in the capital, Edinburgh of the Seven Seas.

Tristan Da Cunha is under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom, who provides school teachers, doctors and material goods.

It’s rummy to notice that in the island there are only eight surnames, of Scottish, English, American, Dutch and Italian heritage.

Most practiced activies are lobsters’ fishing and agriculture, despite the greatest introits come from the exportations of local stamps, required in the whole world.

Football, inhabitants’ true passion

The first sports played on the island were cricket and golf, whose court is considered the worst in the world. But it’s football that broke locals’ hearts.

Initial stories about football are found in a book written in 1926 by Rose Rogers, an Anglican missionary, who lived in Tristan da Cunha for three years with his husband.

Infact Rose says: “Tristan lads became immensely keen on football, and..would have liked a season to last all year round.”

“The games were very strenuous, and there was a good deal of cheerful noise about them.”

Rev. Henry Rogers was probably the one who introduced the game on the island. The first games didn’t have a precise number of players on the pitches, which were usually destined to cattles.

But around 1940 there was a turn that changed completely the world game in Tristan da Cunha. Infact for the first time, they should have faced a foreign team, made up of South Africans and American fishers. This was the first time where the island selected a squad similar to a national team.

Afterwards the team played against opponents from apparently unattainable countries, even from Norway. Unfortunately there is no information about these matches’ results.

But Tristan’s isolation made it difficult for them to find regular teams to take on apart of them. This only until 2005, when a resident, Leon Glass, decided to set up a proper football team, which should have been used to play against vessels’ mariners with a bit of continuity.

Leon Glass managed to find a sponsor for the team’s shirts, whose official colours are blue and white, the fishing’ company Ovenstone Agencies, and created the local club, which serves as a true national team of the island, the TDCFC, Tristan da Cunha Football Club. Their home pitch is the ‘American Fence’, another cattle field.

“I asked a few of the local lads who had enjoyed having kickabouts with visiting Navy teams if they would be interested in forming a team. They all agreed, though they said they would love to play in a proper kit,” revealad Leon Glass.

“I then contacted our local fishing company, Ovenstone Agencies, to ask if they would be interested in sponsoring our kit. They agreed, and paid for the full kit and printing.”

Until now the national team’s results have been more than acceptable: in 2008 they hammered 10-5 the International Salvage XI, a selection composed of two ships’ crews, and less than a year ago, they demolished 9-0 the RFA Black Rovers.

But Glass calls for more opponents for the next years: “TDCFC haven’t played many games lately as we have no-one to play against,” he added.

“Maybe, in the next few months, a few Navy ships will pass and give us a game.”

It would be amazing if Tristan da Cunha would join an official confederation, in order to seal their success in football, but before it’d be more useful is someone took a piece of chalk to draw midifield and penalty box’s lines, as they’re non-existent at the moment.

However the arrival of football in Tristan da Cunha is clearly another victory of the world game, who has already arrived where men can’t. What’s next impossible challenge for the round ball? Only time will reveal us, for now we can only say well done to Tristan da Cunha, for making the impossible, real.

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