Wednesday 09 March 2022, 08:00

France welcomes Les Cagous ahead of OFC qualifiers

  • New Caledonia spent a week training in France

  • The squad met up with Antoine Kombouare and Christian Karembeu

  • Kagus preparing for Qatar 2022 qualifying competition in Qatar

Following a week-long training camp in France, New Caledonia took a flight to Qatar on Wednesday for the OFC qualifying competition for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. The competition has been cancelled on several occasions on account of the Covid-19 pandemic. Les Cagous held their camp at Ligue 1 club FC Nantes, whose facilities provided the 30-strong squad and ten coaching staff with an ideal setting to prepare for the World Cup qualifiers. Most of the funding for the camp was provided by the FIFA Forward Programme. Nantes coach Antoine Kombouare is used to welcoming New Caledonians to the club. Both he and former France international Christian Karembeu were born in the Pacific archipelago and both were on hand to give Les Cagous a warm welcome and to chat to the players and coaching staff. In response, they received the honorary title of Ambassadors of Caledonian Football.

Coached by Dominique Wacalie, the New Caledonia players were in the crowd to watch Nantes beat Monaco in the semi-finals of the Coupe de France. The Melanesians played two friendlies during their stay in France, beating local sides Vertou 2-0 and Orvault 3-0 to boost their confidence ahead of the trip to Doha, where they will take on Fiji (18 March), Papua New Guinea (21 March) and New Zealand (24 March) in Group B. The top two teams in Groups A and B will advance to the semi-finals, with the winner of the competition going on to face a CONCACAF team in the intercontinental play-offs in June.