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Nations Cup preparations underway

OFC is working closely with the Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) to ensure that the biggest event in the 2012 regional football calendar is pulled off without a hiccup. Already the cogs within SIFF are turning and negotiations for accommodations, air travel, transportation, medical support and other logistics are well on the roll.
OFC has already sent 2 teams to assess different aspects of the preparations and the main focus was on Lawson Tama, the only pitch for the 2-week football tournament. Olivier Huc led a delegation which assessed the television readiness of Lawson Tama and identified certain areas that needed attention. A number of minor improvements are required and work will get underway once funding is sorted out.
The television team was followed by another 2-man delegation lead by David Firisua Jnr., the OFC head of competitions last week. Accompanying Firisua Jnr. was Seamus Marten who left OFC in 2010 but was recalled especially for the nations cup tournament. Firisua Jnr. and Marten visited Lawson Tama, the training grounds and made booking arrangements for the 30 plus delegation from the OFC as well as held meetings with key football partners.
In Honiara this week is the third team from OFC to visit and it is led by FIFA development officer, Glen Turner and Laurie Stubbing, both key figures in the upgrade of Lawson Tama stadium under the FIFA Goal Project a decade ago. Both made inspections of Lawson Tama earlier this week and discussed improvement work with SIFF General Secretary, Eddie Ngava.
The bulk of the preparatory work will be centred around organising travel, arranging accommodations, preparing the match venue and training grounds and getting logistics like medical services, transportation and security in place. A local organising committee is expected to be announced once formalities are sorted out with the appointees and the OFC. This organising committee will handle the overall management of the event while all administration and other day to day work will be done by OFC and SIFF staff.
A new consideration that is being looked at closely for the event is the implications of having live television broadcast from the match venue. At Lawson Tama a TV control room will be constructed and this will serve as the centre for broadcast to the more than 10 countries inside and outside the region that want to watch the OFC nations cup tournament live. OFC TV will be doing all the filming and several local cameramen have already been approached for the effort.
SIFF president, Martin Alufurai, describes the preparations for the OFC nations cup as a national effort because of the profile of the event.
“An unprecedented television audience will watch the OFC nations cup and for the first time in our history Lawson Tama will be broadcasted live into living rooms in Australia, New Zealand and also in Asia. Hence, it is my view that our preparations are of national proportions and the challenge is great but our commitment is also great. The success of this competition will be a big plus for Solomon Islands as we struggle to shake of the negative legacy of the ethnic conflict that continues to haunt us,” Alufurai says.
Firisua Jnr. is confident that the event will be hosted successfully and called on SIFF’s excellent track record for internationals as an indicator.
“I acknowledge that some work needs to be come but I am fully confident that this event will be a success. We have not come across any obstacle that we cannot deal with and also SIFF has a good reputation as an able organiser. Moreover Solomon Islands has something unique to offer in the thousands of passionate football fans that are expected to turn up at Lawson Tama,” Firisua Jnr. says.
The OFC Nations Cup will kick off on June 1 and will feature 8 teams from the region in the challenge to finish among the top four places to progress to the next round of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying stage. The added bonus is a ticket to the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2014 for the winner.
New Zealand, New Caledonia, Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands are the teams set to take part in the competition.

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