Nolhann Alebate – Hienghène Sport (Scout Report)

Nolhann Alebate is a 17-year-old midfielder who plays for Hienghène Sport in the New Caledonia Super League. He first caught my attention at the 2023 Oceania U-17 Championship where was tournament MVP and part of a New Caledonia team that qualified for the U-17 World Cup. The New Caledonian league is broadcast on YouTube and I figured a player of Alebate’s talent would surely be getting senior appearances by now. So I started watching some games and, much to my delight, he had. Alebate played as a winger for New Caledonia U-17 but has played as a #8 at club level. 

The thing that stands out about Alebate is his intensity. He makes life a nightmare for opponents with his pressing. At the OFC U-17, he constantly won the ball back high up the field. He’s very fast and has an incredible work rate. At the club level, it’s much the same, except that he is closing players down in the centre of the park. Alebate is not quite as good when defending against dribblers but any player that doesn’t quite have the ball under control or receives the ball with his back to Alebate is in for a bad time. One of the most encouraging things about Alebate’s performances in the NCSL is that his physical traits still stand out, even against adults. He still looks fast and powerful against men. With the ball, Alebate is a really strong dribbler. He moves powerfully with the ball, has good close control, and can make quick changes of direction. He also wins a ton of fouls because he’s good at shielding the ball with his body.

But there are a few reasons to have doubts about him. One of these is his play in the final 3rd. At the OFC U-17 Alebate took a lot of long-range low percentage shots and he did not generate a huge amount of chances for teammates relative to how inflated scoring tends to be in those tournaments. In the senior games I watched, I didn’t see him generate any shots whatsoever, he was more of a ball shuttler. He also didn’t do a ton of ball progression through passing. Now, not every player has to be a goal scorer but at such a low level you would hope to see something. Alebate is also mostly coming off the bench at senior level. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, he is still extremely young, but if he were a transcendent talent he would probably be regularly starting by now.

Alebate still has a full year before he can move abroad. However, New Caledonians are all French citizens by default. So he could sign with a professional team in France at any time. I would like to say that I have discovered a potential Ligue 1 talent in Oceania but, although Alebate is a very good prospect for the region, I don’t think he quite has that level of juice. But Ligue 2 or the Championnat seems plausible to me, though obviously, he would start out playing age-group or reserve football.  

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