KEIR RADNEDGE in SAO PAULO: Eddy Taeta always told his wife of his dream to go to Brazil, not to scuff the sand of Copacabana or brave the cataracts of Iguaçu but to watch football matches.
Taeta’s dream will come true next June. But, to his own incredulity, he will be in Brazil not as a fan but in the technical area as manager of Tahiti(1,000km2 in size, pop. 178,000) in the FIFA Confederations Cup.
Almost certainly Taeta thought he was dreaming yesterday when he found himself lining up here in Sao Paulo for a photo-opportunity with FIFA leaders Sepp Blatter and Jerome Valcke plus seven managerial giants, his own personal and world-renowned heroes.
At the right hand of the man from the far-distant South Pacific was Cesare Prandelli, whose refreshingly revitalised Italy were Euro runners-up in July; on his left was Vicente Del Bosque, the avuncular Spaniard with the World Cup and European Championship Midas touch.
Further along past Del Bosque stood Brazil’s Mr Persona-plus in Luiz Felipe Scolari, then Mexico’s Manuel De la Torre,Japan’s own top Italian Alberto Zaccheroni and Uruguay’s football professor and philosopher, Oscar Washington Tabarez.
Yet, up on stage, Taeta was their equal, with the same right and opportunities to answer the same questions.
Only then was the spell broken.
“For a small country like Tahiti to be able to play the Confederations Cup is something special,” he began in modest yet vast understatement.
“In June, for Oceania, it will be an unbelievable joy for us to come to Brazil. After our [Oceania] victory I don’t think our players were quite aware of what was ahead of us.
“In the following two months we had a bit of a problem trying to digest just this victory. Now it’s time to become aware of the fact that we are playing with the big boys.
“Being champions of Oceania is one thing but now we have to ask other questions of ourselves. Of course we have played the World Cup rounds in Oceania but this will be difficult for us. New Zealand is the real dominant country in Oceania. Now we have to get down to brass tacks.”
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