Confederations Cup – Group B Focus: David meets Goliath as Tahiti face Spain

After the thriller served up in Recife on Wednesday by Group A candidates Italy and Japan, it is now time for the teams in Group B of the Confederations Cup to show what they can do. There is a true David and Goliath story as Spain take on tournament new boys Tahiti before Nigeria face off against Uruguay. However, rather than being overawed by the occasion, the Tahitians are savouring their time in the spotlight.

Their ranks consist of an auditor, construction worker, teacher, student and several unemployed individuals rather than professional footballers. But the Tahiti players are relishing their time in Brazil, after achieving their goal in the tournament of just scoring once, the Toa Aito (Iron Warriors) now want to enjoy their time away from the daily grind back home.

There is, however, one professional footballer among the Tahitian ranks – Marama Vahirua, who plies his trade with Greek club Panthrakikos, on loan from French outfit Nancy. Despite being the only person in the camp who can say they are a professional footballer, Vahirua has said that he felt at home straight away when he linked up with the squad for the first time. “I may well be the only professional, but their mentality is the same,” he revealed. “They are young too; they ask a lot of questions. But they are keen to improve.

For Jonathan Tehau, the man who gave Tahiti their historic goal against Nigeria last time out, scoring against the Super Eagles in Brazil at the Confederations Cup in front of thousands of spectators is a world away from his normal nine to five as a confectionary delivery driver. “I always try to make sure there’s enough time for football in my life,” Tehau said. “But the sport is still a leisure pursuit for me – I would never put it before my job.

Defender Teheivarii Ludivion shares the same opinion as Tehau, but team captain Nicolas Vellar feels his teammates are lucky to have what they do as he is one his squad’s unemployed members: “I am doing all I can to find something; we’ll see what happens. In the meantime I try to get as much pleasure out of the game as possible.

While the Tahitians will be hoping to emulate their modest success against Nigeria, they will be up against a much sterner test in the current world and European champions. Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque, it has been rumoured, will look to rest some of his preferred starting XI. However, this would still see the likes of Santi Cazorla, Fernando Torres, David Villa and David Silva making appearances by way of replacements.

The later game from Group B sees Spain’s last opponents Uruguay take on Nigeria. The Uruguayans will be coming into the game needing a win to continue their interest in the tournament. However a win for the Super Eagles would mean they would progress, making their remaining fixture against Spain academic, with only final group placement to play for. Nigeria Coach Stephen Keshi has said that he will be making changes at the back in order to contain the likes of Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez.

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