The National, Wednesday 10th April, 2013
THE Oceania Football Confederation Under-17 Championship will be held on the island of Espiritu Santo, in Vanuatu, from April 17-25 and involve the hosts, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
Cook Islands qualified for the main event after emerging triumphant over Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga in the preliminary tournament, held in Apia, Samoa, from January 22-26.
All six teams will compete for Oceania’s sole qualification spot at the FIFA U17 World Cup, to be held in the United Arab Emirates from October 17-November 8.
The teams will play each other once in a round robin tournament based on a league system and all matches will be staged at the recently-redeveloped Chapuis Stadium, in Luganville, which last hosted an international tournament in 1998 in the form of the Melanesia Cup.
New Zealand’s Young All Whites are the defending champions of Oceania at U17 level after earning the title as hosts in 2011 and going on to compete at that year’s FIFA U17 World Cup in Mexico.
They performed well on the global stage, making the Round of 16 thanks largely to a memorable 4-1 win over Uzbekistan before being knocked out by Japan.