Football | SPORTS

Our Big Day

Today is Fiji Football Association’s most defining moment as the Vodafone Fijian Under-20 side make their first World Cup appearance. The Fijians play Germany in their opening Group F match
01 Jun 2015 10:11
Our Big Day
Tevita Waranaivalu takes a selfie with the team in Christchurch, New Zealand. Photo: Fiji Football

Today is Fiji Football Association’s most defining moment as the Vodafone Fijian Under-20 side make their first World Cup appearance.

The Fijians play Germany in their opening Group F match in the FIFA U20 World Cup at Christchurch Stadium at 1pm.

It will indeed be a mammoth task for the Fijians up against Germany, but anything is possible in the game of football.

While a team like Germany, well renowned for their structured style of play, a kick and chase football game that relies on good spacing and a keen awareness between teammates can turn the heat on for the Fijians creating an upset.

Many of our Fijian players have been together for years in national youth teams, so their understanding of where to put the ball results in the effective, short passes that move the ball around opponents. This was their key to success when this Fijian side qualified unbeaten from the Oceania playoff to the World Cup last year.

A mind game will be on the card for the Fijians today. Coach Frank Farina, having played for Socceroos at an early age, could provide the much-needed expertise for the Fijians when they take on Germany.

The question

The fact that other countries will not be as familiar with Fiji’s style may play to their advantage and a well-executed game plan could upset opponents who expect a pushover. If the players can remain composed and compact as a unit, Fiji could have a respectable showing.

 

Players to watch

Here are three Fijian players who should be on our radar:

Jale Dreloa (captain), defender: The hardworking defender is known as much for his strong back-line play. He is the versatile player, good defensively and as well as upfront, which was the key to success of the Fijian side in their Oceania playoff victory.

Iosefo Verevou, striker: A speedy striker who is an offensive threat, along with teammate Setareki Hughes, is adept at latching on to passes behind the defence line. Verevou is a superb finisher, he scored three goals in the Rewa Galaxy Premier League game this season since coming out of suspension. Verevou’s lethal attacking play will be a key to watch in this game.

Narendra Rao, Midfielder: Football is in the 19-year-old forward’s genes. His father played for champions Ba and has proven a lot with his home club Ba over the years. Rao is a tough midfield player. He has good attacking skills which was evident during the Oceania win and the recent build up matches for the U20 side.

The teams

Germany is firm favorite to qualify for the Round of 16 from this Pool F. Germany has not won the U20 World Cup since 1981. They are second favourites (behind Argentina) to win the World Cup.

Prediction

As Germany’s eye is fixed on larger objectives with their status in world football, the side will fancy their chances while Uzbekistan and Honduras battle for second spot ahead of Fiji. The Fijian footballers will be gunning for their moment of history and will be playing for pride and country.

Buzzetti’s Take

Fiji has what it takes for an upset. National coaching director, Carlos Buzzetti said the Fijian youngsters will need play their hearts out in the opener.

“They need to play their hearts out and I wish the side all the best against Germany.”

 

 


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