1 Jun 2012

Sport: Youthful Samoan team claim underdogs tag

10:49 am on 1 June 2012

Samoa is claiming underdog status ahead of Friday's Oceania Nations Cup football opener against Tahiti in Honiara.

They qualified for the Nations Cup after winning a four-team preliminary tournament in Apia in November.

Despite not being a regular participant at major tournaments, Samoa go into the Nations Cup ranked third in Oceania, 23 places above this afternoon's opponents.

Assistant coach Faimasasa Taito says, against an experienced Tahitian team, they have nothing to lose.

"Because most of our team provide younger players instead of those older players in previous games. We know that in the competition over here in Solomons in 2005 there are only three older survivors in the team and all the new players are new kids on the block so that's why we need to a fast game but we are really challenged and might give Tahiti a little bite."

Recent form favours New Caledonia in the other day one clash against Vanuatu.

The two sides last met at the Pacific Games in Noumea, with the French Territory running out easy 5-0 winners enroute to the gold medal.

Vanuatu coach Percy Avock's side is desperate to square the ledger while New Caledonia's Alain Mozain says they've prepared thoroughly.

We have a good attack and midfield. We need to stay focused and strong in defence and also it will be hard against the other teams - Tahiti and Vanuatu for example.

The winner of the Nations Cup qualifies for next year's Confederations Cup in Brazil.