The New Caledonian squad to face the All Whites in the Oceania FIFA World Cup qualifying tournament have been training together three times a week since November in an effort to be in the best possible shape for the March series.
Domestic league football has been suspended for six months in New Caledonia due to COVID-19 disruption.
As an alternative, the squad has held three training sessions a week and played eight training games to build fitness.
National coach Dominique Wacalie told the Oceania Football Confederation’s website:
“The only way to describe what it’s been like for us without competitions is brutal.
“We started off with a large list of 58 players, seven of those were overseas meaning we had 51 local players to work with. It’s been high-pressure stuff for us since the start.
“We had put our players through intense physical sessions, our staff gave up a lot of their time and I believe that we have done all we can to make up for lost time.”
Fixtures for Group B are:
(Dates/times are NZT)
Saturday March 19 (6am): Papua New Guinea v New Zealand (Qatar SC Stadium, Doha)
Saturday March 19 (9am): New Caledonia v Fiji
Tuesday March 22 (6am): Papua New Guinea v New Caledonia
Tuesday March 22 (9am): New Zealand v Fiji (Qatar SC Stadium, Doha)
Friday March 25 (9am): New Zealand v New Caledonia (Qatar SC Stadium, Doha)
Friday March 25 (9am): Fiji v Papua New Guinea
New Caledonia squad
The New Caledonia squad is a mix of local players and those who play professionally overseas, including midfield pair Cesar Zeoula and Joris Kenon who play for UA Cognac FC in the French fifth division and goalkeeper Jean-Gilles Hnamuko who plays for Luxembourg’s FC Alisontia Steinsel.
Rocky NYIKEINE (Hienghene Sport), Mickael ULILE (AS Magenta), Jean-Gilles HNAMUKO. (FC Alisontia Steinsel).
William ROKUAD (AS Lossi), Joel WAKANUMUNE (Tiga Sport), Joseph ATHALE (Hienghene Sport), Jean-Brice WADRIAKO (Tiga Sport), Wesley LAUTOA (N/A), Vincent VAKIE (AS Kunie), Emile BEARUNE (N/A), Jean-Luc DECOIRE (Hienghene Sport), Pierre KAUMA (Trio Kedeigne), Louis PIAA (AS Wetr).
Cesar ZEOULA (UA Cognac FC), Pierre BAKO (Tiga Sport), Richard SELE (Tiga Sport), Credric SANSOT (Hienghene Sport), Cedric DECOIRE (CA Saint-Louis), Joris KENON (UA Cognac FC), Roberto NEOERE (AS Kunie), Christopher WACALIE (N/A).
Lues WAYA (Tiga Sport), Georges GOPE-FENEPEJ (US Concarneau), Jean-Philippe SAIKO (AS Lossi), Jordan WETRIA (SC Ne Drehu), Titouan RICHARD (Tiga Sport), Germain HAEWEGENE (AS Wetr), Bertrand KAI (Hienghene Sport), Morgan MATELON (Tiga Sport), Rodrigue WALONE (N/A).