first_imgNew Zealand make a return to this level of regional competition after sitting out the 2014 edition due to their automatic qualification as host of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2015.Bringing a wealth of experience to the squad are Moses Dyer and Clayton Lewis, both of whom made large contributions to Darren Bazeley’s 2015 U-20 world cup squad.Youngster Logan Rogerson, who made his OFC Nations Cup debut with the All Whites on his 18th birthday in Port Moresby earlier this year, will also be a key player. He made his regional debut for New Zealand at the OFC U-17 Championship last year and his star continues to rise.Tahiti – who pushed New Zealand all the way to a penalty shootout at that tournament in order to secure the title, have named a strong, experienced side themselves.Michael Maihi and Ryan Petitgas were key members of that squad along with nine of their teammates, and have the XV Pacific Games behind them as well.New Caledonia are another side which shone at U-17 level last year and while they will be without the likes of exciting up-and-comer Joris Kenon who is tied up with club commitments in France, coach Kamali Fitealeata has assembled a side with a mix of both the familiar, and the unknown.From the hosts Vanuatu the key player will no doubt be Bong Kalo whose experience on the regional stage belies his age. If he can combine with Sylvain Worworbu and Ronaldo Wilkins, both studying in New Zealand since the U-17 last year, coach Etienne Mermer will be feeling confident about his side’s chances.Just like Vanuatu with Kalo, Papua New Guinea are able to call on experience though it’s at the back where Felix Komolong does his best work. The lofty defender played every minute of the Kapul’s five OFC Nations Cup games in June and will be keen to keep Papua New Guinea football on the tips of tongues across Oceania.Fiji will be led by Mataiasi Toma, the midfielder having attended the FIFA U-20 World Cup means he knows the pressures associated with high level competition and will be able to guide his teammates as they attempt to repeat the feats of their predecessors in the Fiji U-20 jersey.Solomon Islands are bringing one of the least experienced sides but have proven time and again across all levels of the game that they are not a side to be underestimated.Having watched as the senior side progress to the semi-finals of the OFC Nations Cup there will surely be a drive to do something similar themselves.Like Solomon Islands, Cook Islands is among the least experienced squads heading to Vanuatu but recent preliminary competitions has seen a number of players test themselves at regional level.Several members of the squad helped qualify Cook Islands to this competition, some of them then went on to the U-17 Preliminary where Cook Islands just missed out on a berth in Tahiti next year.Defender Sunai Joseph was named in the senior squad that competed in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Qualifiers OFC Stage 1 and although he didn’t make it on the pitch, the experience would have been invaluable.Additional Information:The OFC U-20 Championship is the Confederation’s premier youth competition and involves all 11 OFC Member Associations, with four competing in the Preliminary and eight in the Championship.The 2016 tournament will be the 21st edition of this event which for the first time, offers two berths for Oceania at the FIFA U-20 World Cup.With 12 titles, former OFC Member Association Australia holds the record for the most wins in this age-group, while New Zealand, Tahiti and Fiji have also claimed regional victories over the 40-year history of the competition.The 2016 OFC U-20 Championship will be held in Port Vila and Luganville in Vanuatu from 3-17 September 2016.Group AVanuatu (VAN)Fiji (FIJ)Papua New Guinea (PNG)New Caledonia (NCL)Group BTahiti (TAH)Solomon Islands (SOL)New Zealand (NZL)Cook Islands (COK) Vanuatu’s Bong Kalo in action at the OFC Nations Cup.Image: OFC via Phototeklast_img