Football in Vanuatu

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Football National Team

The Vanuatu football national team falls under the Vanuatu Football Federation, abbreviated as VFF. This body governs football clubs and events in the country and organizes national and international competitions. It came to be in 1934 and has had an affiliation with FIFA since 1988. It also has an association with the Oceania Football Confederation. In this piece, we will look at the national football teams:

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    National men’s team

    This national men’s team plays at the Port Vila Municipal Stadium and currently ranks 163rd in FIFA rankings. It has had better years, having ranked 131st in 2007. When the team first started, it went by the name New Hebrides national football team. It was not until New Hebrides became Vanuatu that the name changed. The team has done well over the years and has severally finished fourth in the OFC Nations Cup. Years to mark include 1973, 2000, and 2002. It has also made its mark in the Oceania Nations Cup many a time. For example, in the 2004 games, it beat New Zealand 4-2, preventing the latter from making it to the final. This win also prevented the competition from reaching the 2006 World Cup.
    Sponsors: This national team has been lucky to work with some of the best sponsors. From 2004 to 2011,Lotto Sport sponsored the team’s kits. This company is a sportswear manufacturer that deals in both sporting and casual wear. In 2012, Nike, an American sports equipment and apparel company took the baton. From 2013, Veto took over, paving the way for Pasifika in 2017 and Gorilla Sports in 2018. Vanuatu national team has also been lucky to work with other sponsors who reduce expenses incurred in running their activities. The team has participated in Pacific Games, OFC Nations Cup, Wantok Cup, and the Melanesia Cup. It has done so under the direction of Paul Munster as the head coach and Francois Sakama as the assistant. The team manager is Peter Takaro, Jimmy Obed as the goalkeeper coach, with Jean Yves Galinie as the assistant. Albert Lata handles the physio section.

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    Vanuatu women's national football team

    This team represents the women’s side in international sports and falls under the VFF, with its home field being the Port Vila Municipal Stadium. Job Alwin manages the team, which is yet to participate in the FIFA Women's World Cup. However, it has made it to several competitions, such as the 2010 OFC Women’s Championship and the 2003 South Pacific Games football tournament. The team currently ranks 104th in FIFA rankings, having made it to 82nd back in 2004. The team falls under Jean Robert Yelou as head coach with Elodie Samuel as captain. Serah Thompson has the most caps, with Lavinia Taga standing as the top scorer.

    The team first played against Tonga at the Ratu Cakobau Park in Fiji in 2003, where the competition took the day. Vanuatu did not lose hope and played against Papua New Guinea five days later in a game that ended in a draw. Their biggest win stands as their game against Kiribati, where they won 11-0 soon after the draw. In this game, Lavinia Taga scored seven goals for the team. The team has done well in its many other events following this win. It has taken part in Pacific Games, where it has played against several nations. Expectations are high that the team will soar even greater heights, despite its short withdrawal period earlier on.

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    Vanuatu national under-23 football team

    This team, also known as the Vanuatu Cyclone, falls under the VFF and participates in the OFC confederation. Jean Kaltak holds the record for most caps and top player, with Etienne Mermer being the head coach. The team has made six appearances in the OFC U-23 Championships, even making it to the final.

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    Vanuatu national under-20 football team (Men)

    This team falls under the VFF with Paul Munster as the head coach and Bong Kalo as the captain. Bong Kalo has the most caps with Jean Kaltak taking the lead regarding top scores. This team has taken part in OFC U-20 championships 14 times from 1974 through to date. This tournament takes place every two years to determine which teams qualify for spots in the OFC as FIFA reps.

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    Vanuatu women's national under-20 football team

    This team falls under the VFF and has Benson Rarua as the head coach and Monica Melteviel as the top scorer. It has Luganville Soccer City Stadium as its home playing field. It ranks 148th in FIFA rankings. The team’s first international match was against Tonga, where it lost 4-1 in 2006. From then, it has had its share of wins.

    When it played against New Caledonia in 2015, it walked away with a 4-0 win. In 2019, the team won 4-0 against the Solomon Islands, showing their progress over the years. That was after their biggest defeat, where they lost 18-0 to New Zealand in 2015. The team has made three appearances in the OFC U-20 Women’s Championship and has placed third once (in 2015). Other national teams include the U-15 and U-17, which have also made great strides in recent years.

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