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Fast Pace Football Disrupted Us: Lal

The Vodafone Fijian Under-17 football team’s struggle to stick to their game structure resulted in their 1-1 draw against Solomon Islands during the OFC U17 Championship at Stade Pater in
15 Feb 2017 11:00
Fast Pace Football Disrupted Us: Lal
Vodafone Fijian U17 captain Mohammed Naizal (right), defends against Ellis Mana of Solomon Islands. Photo: OFC Media

The Vodafone Fijian Under-17 football team’s struggle to stick to their game structure resulted in their 1-1 draw against Solomon Islands during the OFC U17 Championship at Stade Pater in Papeete, Tahiti.

Fijian U17 head coach, Shalen Lal said this was because of the high intensity the Solomon Islanders brought to the match, which was difficult for his side to match.

“Coming into the game and scoring so early we were fortunate, but then again Solomon Islands were very good to keep the intensity of the game high,” Lal told OFC Media.

“Whatever our original game structure and plan was I think we weren’t able to apply it against the high pace football the Solomon Islands played.

“I would say we handled it disastrously but once we changed our system of play we were able to contain them.”

Solomon Islands coach Marlon Houkarawa said it was very much a game between two well-matched opponents.

“I think everyone played well for both teams. It was obvious during the first half as Fiji played really well,” he said.

“Their use of the long balls was another strategy and we had to work out how to manage it.”

A very early goal for Fiji– the quickest in the tournament so far at three minutes – helped with their confidence, while also putting Solomon Islands on the back foot.

It was a fast-paced encounter thanks in part to the quick-pass playing style the Solomon Islands adopted, combined with Fiji’s physicality and decision to use their height to their advantage with long balls.

Steward Toata and his teammates up front combined well to keep the defence led by Fijian U17 captain Mohammed Naizal busy. Despite Solomon Islands advances they struggled to find the target and had to go into the break with a deficit of one goal.

Solomons came out with renewed energy in the second half throwing everything forward as they sought an equaliser.

They eventually got what they were after in the 51st minute when Elis Mana fired the ball into the net off an odd-angled cross from Steward Toata.

With the score locked at one apiece the intensity of the match increased once again as both sides chased the three points. The Solomon Islanders had the better chances of the remaining period but couldn’t break down the Fiji back line forcing them to take a share of the points.

“It was a silly mistake made by one of the central defenders who left his position and cost us the goal. We had to fight really hard to come back and score the equaliser,” Houkarawa said.

Group B take the field today with New Zealand facing Solomon Islands in what is dubbed to be a thriller before Fiji play Samoa at the Stade Pater.

Feedback:  leonec@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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