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It is rare that a team so low in FIFA’s world rankings get a chance to showcase themselves at one of the organisation’s major tournaments. Tahiti currently sit in 135th spot, keeping company with the likes of Vietnam, Rwanda and Syria. To complete the set, Afghanistan are only three spots behind them.
It is not as if Tahiti have unearthed a marvellous new generation, misrepresented by the failings of the past. In Oceania’s qualifying for next year’s World Cup, they made it to the final third round, but managed to score only two goals, and win only one game, in a selection containing New Zealand, New Caledonia and the fearsome Solomon islands.
Nor are they a good team beset by a few weaknesses. Excluding a home victory against the Solomon Islands, their fixtures against the other two teams in the group produced an aggregate score of 12 against and 0 for.
It is not just that this lot are no-hopers in the heightened environment of the Confederations Cup, they aren’t even than impressive in the tame kindergarten of OFC.
They qualify for this summer’s centrepiece thanks to an unlikely victory in the 2012 Oceania Nations Cup, but will not expect this latest challenge to be remotely similar.
It will be interesting to see how Tahiti approach the near impossible propositions of games with Spain, Uruguay and Nigeria, but it may be even more interesting to see how the other three approach the presence of such a minnow—such as unlikely opposition—in the context of an international tournament proper.