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Playing Football Without The Ball Letting Fiji Down

Our national soccer team continues to struggle in Oceania. This was not the case in the past but unfortunately it’s becoming a trend now. The recent performance of our team
04 Jun 2016 11:48
Playing Football Without The Ball Letting Fiji Down
Fiji starting 11. 2016 OFC Nations Cup, Solomon Islands v Fiji, Sir John Guise Stadium, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Tuesday 31st May 2016. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / www.phototek.nz

Our national soccer team continues to struggle in Oceania.

This was not the case in the past but unfortunately it’s becoming a trend now.

The recent performance of our team at the Oceania Football Nations Cup in Port Moresby shows that our players are losing grip in a region where we were regarded as football powerhouse.

So far we scored two goals in two matches both from penalties and this is a true reflection of our performance, more defensive rather than offensive in nature,

We used to be the dominant force and Vodafone Fijian national coach Frank Farina can be testament to this.

In 1988 the Socceroos were on fire. Coach Frank Arok had just steered Australia to two of their most famous victories – first, the 4-1 win against world champions Argentina in the Bicentennial Gold Cup, then a 1-0 triumph over the might of Yugoslavia at the Seoul Olympics. This was a side, which included Farina, primed for the 1990 World Cup and the qualification path began with a two-legged tie against Fiji. And that’s where they were jolted and brought back to earth by a Billy Singh-coached side.

After winning the Melanesian Cup at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara and beating New Zealand in a three–match series, a Ravuama Madigi 66th minute piledriver on November 20 at Prince Charles Park sealed a historic win for our country.

Twenty eight years later, Fiji must beat Vanuatu today to be in contention for a semifinal spot in the Oceania Nations Cup in Port Moresby.

This was after Fiji lost 3-1 to the New Zealand All Whites and a close 1-0 win over Solomon Islands kept their chances alive.

We lost to the All Whites not because they were a better team. We deserved to lose because we played poorly. The first two goals were soft giveaways, merely a result of defensive blunders.

Farina should be disappointed on how we continue to give away possessions so cheaply when we need to be in control.

This was the case during the Vodafone Fijian Under- 23 team tour to Spain and Brazil.

And it continues to be the case at the Sir John Guise Stadium in Port Moresby where we hardly build up plays from midfield and provide better feeds to strikers Roy Krishna, Iosefo Verevou and Setareki Hughes. On most occasions we put together 3 or 4 passes before we fire long balls to our strikers and lose possession in the process.

“You can’t defend for 90 minutes and when we have the ball we gave it away too cheaply,” Farina said.

“The simple things in football are what count, passing the ball and controlling it while keeping possession.

“You can’t play football without the ball, you can’t win games without the ball and you can’t score goals without the ball.”

Our team needs to put up a better show, a more polished effort against Vanuatu.  The majority of the players will make the team to the Rio Olympics in August.

They need to show more patience and control and eventually they will click as a team.

Feedback: oseab@fijisun.com.fj

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