Bilikiki is scheduled for a cold doubles opener against Melanesian rival, Vanuatu, and pre-tournament favorites New Zealand at the Devonport's Narrowneck Beach this Saturday the 7th of July.OFC General Secretary, Tai Nicholas, clarifies the shifting of venue in an OFC press statement to NZ Football yesterday.
The OFC General Secretary, Tai Nicholas, said the cost of building a temporary sand pitch that would meet FIFA's specifications, coupled with the risk of causing permanent damage to the Vector Arena floor, were strong reasons to take the tournament to an outdoor facility.
"Vector Arena has at all times been excellent to deal with and I cannot speak more highly of their professionalism and helpfulness during a difficult period of time.
Vector Arena were more than capable of staging a wonderful indoor Beach Soccer event - however, the problem was the risk of damaging the facility after the tournament had ended.OFC had a difficult decision to make. But I believe we have made the best decision," Nicholas said.
Melanesian rivals Vanuatu will not only meet the defending champions but also the mid-winter season conditions in New Zealand's Devonport's Narrowneck Beach. The Sand Champions Bilikiki will take on pre-tournament favorites New Zealand in their second game of the day. The changing weather conditions will surely affect the Pacific teams' performance. The host nation will presume home advantage and will remain underdogs in their first stint in the championships.