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Vanuatu's Brian Kaltak and Solomon Islands’ Philip Mango square off at the pre-tournament media conference.

OFC Media.


OFC Men’s Nations Cup returns to the Pacific after eight years

Vanuatu and Fiji are the two hosts for this year's tournament, welcoming teams from across the region.

Seven teams from around the Pacific will go head to head in the first OFC Men’s Nations Cup in eight years.

The tournament kicks off this weekend in Vanuatu and Fiji, and matches will be played over the next few weeks.

OFC spokesperson Michael Wood joined Pacific Mornings to discuss the tournament.

“It’s our biggest mens competition for national teams. It’s very exciting we’ve got it this year, in 2020 it was unfortunately canceled due to Covid so 2016 was the last time we had one.

“And across two countries as well, which wasn’t the original plan. It was originally going to be in Vanuatu, but due to logistical challenges we're now across Vanuatu and Fij -which might actually be a blessing, in two very passionate football countries.”

Watch the full interview on our 531PI Facebook Page.

New Zealand, who won the last tournament in 2016, will look to retain their spot as the top team in Oceania. And with the Olympic games looming, the All Whites expect to use this tournament as good preparation for the games.

“We’ve finalised the squad and, going well, we can now have a strong All Whites squad with a lot of experience, but also we can blend in some younger players that will give them a chance to push their names forward for Olympics selection,” head coach Darren Bazeley told OFC media.

He said the tournament is also a good time for the younger members of the squad to experience football at an international level.

“Part of the reason why the Nations Cup is so important is that it’s tournament competition games.Those players are going to have a great experience.”

The first game was supposed to feature New Zealand and New Caledonia but has been canceled, so Solomon Islands and Vanuatu will be the two openers for the tournament in Port Vila.

Michael Wood said the game between the Solomons and Vanuatu expects to bring fireworks.

“With two teams in each group going through (to finals) if you're able to secure a win against the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, it puts the pressure on whoever doesn’t win that game to win against New Zealand.

“If one of those teams can secure win tomorrow, it will put them in a strong position for a spot in the semi-finals.”