Honestly, I’m not sure what got into Captain Cook to name a tropical paradise after Europe’s country with the highest precipitation
New Caledonia literally translates to „New Scotland”, yet, looking at pictures of the Pacific special collectivity of France, this comparison doesn’t disclose itself to me. There are actually hardly any similarities between both countries:
While one is a sunny tropical island blessed with lush vegetation, azure waters, exotic food and island beauties, the other one is…well… Scotland.
When it comes to football, however, there is actually a common feature: both countries aren’t sovereign states, but a part of other European countries, yet, they are both an independent member of FIFA.
New Caledonia is among the strongest team in the OFC. With seven titles, Les Cagous (named after a bird) are actually the record champion of the Pacific Games. They were even the top ranked OFC nation in 2008 when they reached the 95th place in the FIFA ranking, making them only the fourth country from the confederation to have reached the top 100.
In 2019, New Caledonia’s top teams “Hienghène Sport” and “AS Magenta” even managed to beat New Zealand teams “Auckland City” and “Team Wellington” in the semi-finals of the OFC Champions League and advanced to the finals, where Hienghène Sport eventually claimed the title.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, football in Oceania was ground to a hault, hence the team hasn’t played a single match since 2019.
Collectors have been waiting to get hold of one of these beauties since the team paraded the shirts during the 2019 Pacific Games. Yet, it took almost two years until replicas were made available by the FCF. I also invested countless hours to finally get my hands on one of these: contacting players, staff, sport stores, random New Caledonian people, but to no avail.
I was even able to find the designer of the shirts as well as the manufacturer and supplier, but no one was able (or willing) to help me.
While the jersey is basically a straight rip-off of the 2018 USA shirt by Nike, the choice of colors and the addition of numerous indigenous symbols of New Caledonia make it a sight for sore eyes.