ZURICH: Tahiti will bring a welcome breath of fresh air next year to the Confederations Cup in Brazil, the warm-up tournament ahead of the World Cup there 12 months later, according to FIFA’s Jerome Valcke.

The South Sea islanders made history by defeating New Caledonia 1-0 in last Sunday’s final of the Oceania Nations Cup. This means they will compete along with the hosts, South American champions Uruguay, World Cup holders Spain and the winners of the European Championshhip currently under way in Poland and Ukraine.

Steevy Chong Hue scored Tahiti’s goal after only 10 minutes of the Oceania final at the Lawson Tama Stadium in the Solomon Islands.

Valcke, FIFA’s secretary-general and World Cup progress-chaser in his latest 2014 update, said: “It’s great to see Tahiti qualify for the FIFA Confederations Cup which means that there is a new face at the tournament. Previously it had been only New Zealand and Australia.

“This highlights the remarkable progress being made by the so-called ‘smaller nations’ as well as the success of the development work done by each individual member association and FIFA worldwide.”

Valcke noted that more than 950 goals had been scored in the 304 World Cup qualifiers at an average of just over three per game. It was, he said, “great to talk about what’s happening on the pitch, not just the preparations in the host country.”

These were, Valcke claimed after the well-aired problems and controversies of the last months, “moving forward as well.”

Valcke and his ‘World Cup team’ return to Brazil shortly to visit Brasilia and two other cities together with Sports Ministry representatives plus ex-World Cup stars Ronaldo and Bebeto on behalf of the local organising authority.

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