India is all set to host the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, scheduled to kick off on 6th October. 24 countries from six confederations will be competing for one of the biggest honours in youth football with the matches being held in six cities across the country.
In this segment, we take a look at New Caledonia's U-17 team and guide you through their journey to the world cup, highlighting their achievements, key players, coach and much more.
Country: New Caledonia
Confederation: OFC (Ocenia)
Nicknames: Les Cagous (The Kagus)
Coach: Dominique Wacalie
PAST RECORDS AND LAURELS
Controlled by the New Caledonian Football Federation, the Under-17 side of New Caledonia will be making their debut appearance at the FIFA U-17 World Cup this year. New Caledonia’s qualification to the blockbuster event means that they will become the sixth current OFC member to feature in a FIFA World Cup.
The Kagues have often, in the past, made a mark in the OFC U-17 Championship. New Caledonia has always earned a spot in the top four in each year of their participation barring 2011. They earned the fourth place in the years 1983, 1999, 2005, 2007 and 2015 and grabbed a third place finish in the 2009 edition of the tournament. However, their best record remains a second place finish in 2003, 2013 and the latest chapter of the contest - 2017.
ROAD TO U-17 WORLD CUP
In the 2017 OFC U-17 Championship held in Samoa and French Polynesia, New Caledonia was drawn with Papua New Guinea, Tahiti and Vanuatu in Group A. Their two victories against Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu in the group stage were enough to send them through to the knockout phase where they secured a 3-2 victory over Solomon Islands. This confirmed their place at 2017 U-17 World Cup before suffering a 7-0 annihilation by New Zealand in the final of the championship decider in what was their fifth match in 14 days.
PREPARATIONS AHEAD OF THE MEGA-EVENT
Ahead of the final squad's selection, the New Caledonian youngsters, in August, travelled to Gold Coast in Australia for their second course abroad with the first one taking place at Aukland last year in the month of June. The side faced four Australian teams while on their two-week training camp. Now, on the 29th of September, the team has planned a stopover at Singapore to compete against their U-18 side in what is believed to be an international friendly. New Caledonia are placed in Group E alongside Japan, Honduras and France.
Dominique Wacalie, a 35-year-old born in Xepenehe, is in charge of New Caledonia's under-17 side. Wacalie took over from Michael Clarque in April 2017, with the latter having led the team through their historic qualification journey earlier in the year. A young gaffer, Wacalie previously operated as the Regional Technical Director of New Caledonia. Wacalie retired only in 2014 having featured in Les Cagous’ 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign after a career that included several years in France’s lower leagues.