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Fiji Bow Out In Style

  The New Zealand All Whites escaped Churchill Park unscathed in a lacklustre 2-0 win over the Vodafone Fijian football side in their 2018 World Cup qualifier yesterday. While New
26 Mar 2017 12:34
Fiji Bow Out In Style
Action from NZ All Whites - Vodafone Fiji clash at Churchill Park in Lautoka yesterday. Photo: WAISEA NASOKIA

 

The New Zealand All Whites escaped Churchill Park unscathed in a lacklustre 2-0 win over the Vodafone Fijian football side in their 2018 World Cup qualifier yesterday.

While New Zealand coach Anthony Hudson termed the win as “professional”, Fiji’s coach Christophe Gamel was happy in the sense the visitor’s goals came from a penalty and an error by goalkeeper Beniamino Matenaqara.

Fiji had their share of chances throughout the match and had some goals gone in, it would have set them above New Zealand through the set-up.

Fiji lacked height in all departments but a spirited performance gave a ray of hope that the national team had played better football than seen in years.

The halftime score line of 0-0 was convincing enough to for Gamel to know that a new era was in the making for Fiji football.

What happened: Fiji started off in good fashion keeping the ball moving with some crisp passes.

It took New Zealand around 10 minutes to settle in and the visitors began stringing their passes together including long overhead passes which they convincingly won on numerous occasions.

Captain Christopher Wood’s directives on the field saw New Zealand pushing the ball through the gaps.

Fiji’s defence of Taniela Waqa, Remueru Takeata, Penaiame Drova and Kolinio Sivoki kept a foot in place at the final moments which thwarted New Zealand’s attack.

Fiji had a scare midway through the first spell from a shot from wide out but Matenaqara was equal to the occasion on numerous instances throughout the game.

Halftime: Fiji 0-0 NZ

The start of the second half was disastrous for the home side as just two minutes into the game New Zealand earned their penalty after Drova handled the ball inside the box.

Wood stepped up and pushed the ball past a diving Matenaqara for New Zealand to lead 1-0.

Fiji came close to scoring on a number of occasions but follow ups from Dave Radrigai and Osea Vakatalesau saw the hard work of skipper Roy Krishna in setting up play come to waste.

Krishna’s prowess was nullified throughout the match with New Zealand keeping a close watch on him and also the timing of passes into gaps which he is well known for capitalising on. Fiji’s second blunder inside the box came when Matenaqara collected a back pass and tried to beat Marco Rojas in dribbling.

Rojas calmly dispossessed Matenaqara and score possibly one of the easiest goals of his career.

The game deteriorated to a slow pace towards the end with New Zealand coming out victors to lead Fiji by a win going into the second match to be played in New Zealand.

Comments: Gamel said he was disappointed as Fiji lacked pride in the game.

He said the penalty was a disappointment as he was sure Fiji could have come out convincing and perhaps score some goals.

“I am very proud of the boys. I congratulate all the boys because it was not easy and the way they played was very positive.

“Whenever they pressured we never lost our minds so this is very positive.”

New Zealand coach Hudson said he was pleased considering this was a tough place to play.

“Fiji is a difficult team but I am pleased we came away with a clean sheet and this has set us up nicely for the second game.”

Edited by Osea Bola

Feedback:  charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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