Papua New Guinea (PNG) are the favourites to qualify for next year's Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia, when the East Asia-Pacific qualifier begins in Vanuatu on Wednesday. Just one place is available.
It will be the first of five regional qualifying tournaments to be played up to the end of August - with one qualifying place up for grabs from each. Europe's will be held in Belfast from 23-26 July, the Americas in Toronto from 13-18 August, Asia's in Malaysia from 20-29 August and Africa's in Benoni from 25-30 August.
In all, 31 teams will take part, with the five winners joining the ten Full Members and Malaysia for the main event which starts on 17 February where Pakistan will aim to complete a hat-trick of titles. They beat West Indies in the 2004 final, and India last year. PNG failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cups, but played in the two previous competitions.
The other three teams are Japan, Vanuatu and Fiji. Vanuatu is one of the six Affiliates taking part in the tournaments with the others being Qatar, Afghanistan, Oman, the Bahamas and Ghana.
It will be Japan's debut appearance at this level after becoming an Associate in 2005, while Fiji was the host of the previous EAP Qualifier when it was staged in 2001.
The president of Vanuatu Cricket Association, Mark Stafford, said the tournament will provide a valuable boost for the growth of the sport in Vanuatu. He said: "We have focused on developing our junior cricket programs and structures, and hosting the EAP U/19 Qualifier complements our ambitions to cultivate a strong junior base."
The tournament also has the backing of the Vanuatu Government, with the Minister for Youth Development and Training, the Honourable Dunstan Hilton offering his support. "We have been a long time supporter of cricket in Vanuatu. We realise how important this tournament is to continuing the development of the sport."
On the opening day, Japan will take on PNG at the Kazaa Field while the Independence Park will host Fiji and Vanuatu. The top two teams will play for the title with the winner earning a ticket to Malaysia.
Vanuatu Andrew Mansale, Trevor Langa, Frederick Timakata, Simpson Hopeman Obed, Lazaro Carlot, Johnathan Dunn, Brendan Gabriel Francis Piau-Lynch, Steven Mark Piau-Lynch, Trevor Rambay, Patrick Kaltaneaki Matautaava, Henry Chilia, Silou Delarue, Selwyn Garae, Victor Aru.
Fiji Josefa Rika (capt), Maciu Babiau (vice-captain), Viliame Yabaki, Peni Dakainivanua, Sekope Biauniceva, Makutu Seru, Viliame Manakiwai, Coqabula Waqabaca, Tukana Tavo, Patrick Tuidraki, Vilikesa Nailolo, Joni Dauveipapitaiso, Gaurang Patel, Enoch Tamani.
Japan Kodai Hirano, Takumi Nomura, Naoki Kamatani, Naotsune Miyaji, Masahiro Azuma, Ryo Ikeba, Hideyo Ishida, Taketeru Yoshida, Shohei Okuma, Yosuke Higashimoto, Naoki Toyoda, Naoki Hayashi, Jiro Takenaka, Raheel Kano.
Papua New Guinea Tony Pala Ura, Heni Siaka, Tanti Heni, Joel Tom, Miller Rabura, Alfred Amini, Colin Terian Amini, Arua Vagi Dikana, Jonathan Diho, Jason Kila, Loa Nou, Jacob Morea Mado, Harry Eua, Willie Toua Gavera.