Pierre Wajoka Premiere
Christian Karembeu might be the footballing icon of New Caledonia but Pierre Wajoka (Photo) is not far behind in the affection of the fans on this French-controlled island. Karembeu may have won the World Cup with France in 1998 and he may have played at the highest level with Real Madrid, Sampdoria and Olympiakos, but it was Wajoka who claimed a little piece of history for himself with the first goal in the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaign. As the captain of New Caledonia, he accepted the responsibility of taking an early penalty in the first match at the South Pacific Games against Tahiti (1-0) at the ToleafoaJ.S. Blatter Complex in Apia (Samoa) on 25 August 2007, which marked the beginning of the preliminaries for the finals in South Africa. Wajoka played in the final of the 2003 South Pacific Games in Fiji and won a silver medal, but he is better known for his success at club level. The 28-year-old helped AS Magenta win three championships on the island and six Coupes de Caledonie between 2000 and 2005. He was also a runner-up in the OFC Champions Cup final against Sydney FC in Tahiti in 2005 when he caught the eye of the opposing coach, Pierre Littbarski, who tried to sign him before the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan later that year. The move did not come off but Wajoka has continued to be a force in New Caledonian football, captaining AS Lossi to league and cup glory in 2007.