Tuvalu Soccer Team out to create upset


June 25, 2003; Wansolwara Online

Soccer minnow Tuvalu has been lumped with giants Fiji, the Solomons and Vanuatu in its pool but this hasn't doused the team's enthusiasm. The team is well prepared and hopes to spring a few surprises at the Games.

"We're ready and we are trying to get a medal, the highest we can achieve," said team captain Molu Tavita.

Tuvalu is the underdog in the pool, which also has Kiribati. It faces Kiribati in the first game on Monday. This is the one game the team has a chance of winning although Kiribati is considered the stronger of the two sides.

The team is looking at creating an upset against Kiribati. The confidence stems from the fact that it has had a good build-up for the Games. Also, an Australian is coaching the side.

He is Tim Jerks, the coaching development manager at the New South Wales Institute of Sport. The inclusion of Jerks last month has boosted team morale and fitness.

"The boys' aerobic fitness and technical ability has improved a lot in a month," said Jerks.

Tuvalu played against Fijian sides during a one-week trip to Fiji last month in preparation for the Games. Jerks said this helped the team a lot.

"It gave us a chance to to play night matches under floodlights at the National Stadium and experience much tougher competition outside of Tuvalu."

Tuvalu's squad includes two 19-year olds, forward Cashber Iagota and defender Sam Mapusaga. Both impressed during the Fiji tour.


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