Wednesday, 23 February 2011 9:02 AM

Vanuatu Pulls Out of Tournament

Vanuatu will not participate at the Oceania Football Confederation Beach Soccer Championship set to kick off in Papeete, Tahiti, tomorrow.

High winds and heavy rain from Cyclone Atu, a category four storm, meant the Port Vila airport remained closed last night when the Vanuatu team was to board their rescheduled flight to the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup qualifier.

OFC general secretary Tai Nicholas informed the Vanuatu Football Federation and the other participating teams Fiji, Solomon Islands and Tahiti that the tournament must continue without Vanuatu.

"We sincerely regret this situation caused by the cyclone," said Nicholas.
"OFC has exhausted every possibility including sending the team via Brisbane, Noumea and Auckland but with the closure of the airport, and with the other teams having already arrived, it is unfortunately too difficult to delay the tournament any further."

With the withdrawal of twice finalist Vanuatu, Solomon Islands stand a good chance to walk away with a win.

The winner of the tournament will represent Oceania at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, set to be held in Ravenna, Italy in September.

The revised schedule is as follows:

Wednesday February 23 - Solomon Islands vs. Fiji
Thursday February 24 - Tahiti vs. Fiji
Friday February 25 - Tahiti vs. Solomon Islands
Saturday February 26 Final (1st vs. 2nd)

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