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Fijians Fightback

Fijians Fightback
The Vodafone Fiji Football U16 team celebrate Eshan Kumar’s goal at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara on September 10,2018.Photo: OFC
September 12
12:56 2018

Honiara: Samoa almost caused a shock upset in the opening Group B match of the OFC U-16 Champi­onship after taking a two-goal lead over Fiji at Lawson Tama Stadium on Monday.

However, the Fijians fought back in the second half to secure a 3-2 victory over the Qualifier winners before Tahiti beat New Caledonia 2-1 in the day’s late match.

The kick-off for the opening match was delayed by two hours following disruptions to the flight arrangements for Samoa, but that barely registered for the side as they settled easily into the encoun­ter.

So much so, within the first 10 minutes they’d had more shots than their opponent, and were re­warded with a seventh minute goal courtesy of captain Lotial Mano with an impressive back-heel.

Despite sitting deep in their half, Samoa proved lethal with a direct counter attack and were soon lead­ing by two goals after Mano nailed in a second 10 minutes later.

It seemed a two goal deficit is what Fiji needed to kick start them into action and they were soon starting to play more organised, possession-based football as they sought to pull their opponents back within their reach.

The pressure paid off two minutes into added time when Eshan Ku­mar found the back of the net for Fiji.

Fiji continued with that momen­tum as they came out for the second half as they forced Semu Faimata, the Samoa goalkeeper, into making a number of goal-denying saves.

Like the opposing Mano, Fiji cap­tain Josaia Sela then took it upon himself to lead by example firing in a fantastic equaliser in the 63rd minute. He then buried the match in the 78th minute when he gave Fiji the lead from the penalty spot.

More To Work On: Dutt

Vodafone Fijian U16 coach Yo­gendra Dutt was delighted his side had the mental strength to not only come from behind to equalise but to find a match winner too.

“As we expected it was tough and we knew Samoa would be physically strong. What we planned initially didn’t work out and it took some time for us to find something that worked,” Dutt said.

“We came to this competition knowing that it will be tough but now we will go back and polish up on a few areas ahead of our next match against Tahiti on Thursday.”

Samoa coach Martin Tamasese was impressed by the start from his side, although a little disappointed they couldn’t hold onto their hard-earned lead.

OFC

Feedback: oseab@fijisun.com.fj

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