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Tahiti poses for a team photo
© Getty Images

*Qualification history
Tahiti leapt to global attention in 2013 with their appearance at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil, followed a few months later by the highly successful hosting of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup; a first for a Pacific Islands nation. They enter Russia 2018 as Oceania champions on the back of their unexpected 2012 success. Tahiti, which is the main landmass in French Polynesia, made their FIFA World Cup™ qualifying debut in 1992. With a deep history in the game through the nation’s French roots, Tahiti immediately showed their natural football ability by forcing Australia to work overtime to triumph during USA 1994 qualifying. Tahiti impressed with three wins during Korea/Japan 2002 qualifying, although New Zealand edged into the Oceania play-off. Despite winning the Oceania crown Tahiti disappointed during the final stage of Oceania qualifying for Brazil 2014.

*The team *
With football in Tahiti energised by recent experiences, most of the Brazil 2013 squad remain on the scene. Numerous members of the squad have experience playing in France, none more so than Tahiti’s most well-known football export; former Ligue 1 star Marama Vahirua. Several squad members are also part of the *Tiki Toa *side which impressed the Beach Soccer fraternity by taking Tahiti to fourth place on home soil in 2013 and runners-up position at Portugal 2015.

*The coach
French-born Ludovic Graugnard assumed the national team reins in 2015 taking over from Eddy Etaeta who coached the team to their historic appearance at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup. Graugnard was Toa Aito assistant coach at Brazil 2013, and is also national U-17 coach as well as assistant manager of the Tahiti Football Federation’s technical department.

The stat
– Tahiti are the only Oceania nation other than New Zealand and former OFC member Australia to be crowned continental champions.

*The former stars
Naea Bennett, Felix Tagawa