Tomorrow night, the Socceroos will host Tahiti in the second of their 2004 OFC Nations Cup matches at Adelaide’s Hindmarsh Stadium.
Tomorrow night, the Socceroos will host Tahiti in the second of their 2004 OFC Nations Cup matches at Adelaide-s Hindmarsh Stadium. After defeating traditional Oceania heavyweights New Zealand in round one, the consensus of Australia-s soccer punditry is that it should smooth sailing for the Socceroos, as they prepare for four matches against island opposition.
Of course, the belief that island opposition do not have the nous and strategy to test the tyrants of Oceania is a thing of the past.
The proof in the pudding is Tahiti, who given an earlier finish to their last OFC Nations Cup meeting with Australia, would have been responsible for dumping the regional giants out of the competition.
Tahiti will be the first island team to test the water against a very strong Socceroos squad that boast names of global notoriety like Marco Bresciano, Mark Schwarzer and John Aloisi.
Conversely, few people outside of Papeete would recognize the likes of Samuel Garcia, Angelo Tchen and Felix Tagawa.
The Tahitians are faced with an identical scenario to the rest of Oceania-s island contingent - isolation, seclusion and a tragic lack of financial means.
After affiliating themselves to FIFA in 1990, the Tahitians have endured low to moderate success on the world stage, although they have achieved as much as one would hope, given their extenuating circumstance.
Outside of Oceania, the Tahitians have never played an international.
In their time as a FIFA accredited nation, Tahiti have competed in 60 ‘A- Internationals, including their 0-0 draw with Fiji last night.
Out of those 60 matches there are few highlights, although Tahitian fans will remember a series of matches at the dawn of the millennium with particular fondness.
In June 2001, Tahiti performed with diligence at the World Cup qualifiers in Auckland to finish second behind the hosts.
Upon their return a year later, Tahiti-s semi final in the OFC Nations Cup against Australia went famously into extra time.
Following the nailbiting, and ultimately fruitless end to the match, the Tahitians performed marvellously to snatch third spot at the tournament - their biggest ever honour.
Tagawa, who currently plays with local club AS Dragon, became a star overnight in his homeland after appearing for the Brisbane Strikers in the closing stages of their unsuccessful 2002/2003 season.
The diminutive striker netted one goal for the Queensland club in his three appearances and was also sent off against South Melbourne in his debut match.
Tagawa is a part of the side that has made the trip to Australia and will be a major factor in the Tahitians charge towards an upset result tomorrow.
With a soccer mad community cheering them on from home, (a full Hindmarsh Stadium will represent more than an eighth of their population) the Tahitians are not likely to beat Australia, but hey, isn-t that what they said last time?
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