Melbourne: Micronesia`s young players may need counselling after conceding 114 goals in three matches against humble Pacific Island opponents, but coach Stan Foster hopes the lopsided losses are a stepping stone to future success.
Micronesia bowed out of the recent Pacific Games with a record 46-0 spanking by Vanuatu, ranked 200th of FIFA`s 209 teams. That followed their 30-0 rout by 182nd-ranked Tahiti and 38-0 mauling by 195th-ranked Fiji.
Though drawing from a tiny pool of players -- Micronesia has a population of about 100,000 scattered across some 600 islands in the Western Pacific -- Australian Foster conceded he had taken flak for bringing a team of teenagers to Papua New Guinea.
"I picked a development squad made up of teenagers, for which I was criticised, but if the kids weren`t so enthusiastic about the sport I probably would`ve packed up and gone back to Australia," Foster said in quotes published by Australian state broadcaster ABC.
"Possibly (they`ll need counselling)," he said, "but they`re young, they`re resilient. Most of them had never been out of their village until we went to Guam as part of our build-up to the Games.
"Most of them had never been on an escalator and I had to show them how to use one.
"But this fantastic experience -- the opening ceremony, meeting so many fantastic people -- I think it`s taken some of the disappointment around what happened on the pitch away, taken the hurt away.
"When I go back I expect more criticism from those people who say the team has embarrassed the country, but I hope we`ve taken the first steps towards one day becoming a force in the region."
While Micronesia`s opponents plundered goal after goal, racking up some impressive individual statistics, Foster told his players he would be proud of them no matter what.
"They know (you) haven`t got the skills and the technical know-how, but in 12, 16 years` time, after a few more Pacific Games, history will look kindly on you," he said.
Foster hoped a visit by FIFA officials to the island nation might pave the way for recognition and ranking by the global governing body, as well as financial assistance.
"I can`t do it on my own," he said.
"As far as I know I`m the only certified coach in the country and I really need help to raise the technical standards on the other islands because we`re hundreds of kilometres apart."