New Caledonia are FIFA’s newest member in Oceania, having been affiliated to the world governing body only in 2004, despite a long history of football in the French-speaking Melanesian nation. They have thus featured in just two previous FIFA World Cup™ campaigns, impressing on both occasions. They were South Pacific champions in 2007, which doubled as the first stage of South Africa 2010 qualifying and were runners-up in the 2012 OFC Nations Cup, narrowly falling shy of the ticket to the FIFA Confederations Cup claimed by Tahiti.
New Caledonia boasts a variety of experience in their squad with many of the older personnel undoubtedly looking to avoid a tag of ‘nearly men’. Having just missed the OFC Nations crown in 2012, Les Cagous pushed New Zealand all the way in 2013 before the All Whites eventually claimed a berth in the World Cup intercontinental play-off. Several former and current New Caledonians have played in France, most notably powerful forward Georges Gope-Fenepej who is expected to lead a dynamic attack.
Local coach Thierry Sardo was appointed in early 2015, with the nation’s most-capped player Pierre Wajoka as his assistant. Sardo was national team assistant when they won the Pacific Games on home turf in 2011, and he has also coached several local sides, most notably winning the championship with AS Mont Dore.
100 – New Caledonia joined FIFA in the world governing body’s centenary year, although the national federation was founded way back in 1928.
The former stars
Marc Kanyan, Gilles Tavergeux, Gerald Delmas