SPORTS

Fijians Stage Fightback

What happened: Trailing by two goals after just 25 minutes, the Vodafone Fijian football team  fought back to draw 2-2 with New Caledonia in the first leg of their 2018
08 Jun 2017 11:00

What happened: Trailing by two goals after just 25 minutes, the Vodafone Fijian football team  fought back to draw 2-2 with New Caledonia in the first leg of their 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Qualifiers – OFC Stage 3 matches at Churchill Park in Lautoka yesterday.

Mone Wamowe was behind a pair of impressive strikes to give New Caledonia the lead, receiving a cross then calmly placing the ball in the net in the 13th minute of the game, then timing a diving header perfectly to score at the front post only 11 minutes later.

The two goals put pressure on the young Fijian squad, however, they managed it well and began to play a calmer and more structured game in the latter minutes of the second half.

Their new approach paid off just before the halftime whistle when Saula Waqa scored off his head to close the margin between the two teams as they headed into the changing rooms.

Unfortunately, the second half was short-lived for one of Fiji’s playmakers Setareki Hughes, who was carried off the field by stretcher in the 47th minute. Roy Krishna was called from the bench to continue Hughes work up front, and the Wellington Phoenix attacker was quick to deliver, finding the back of the net only four minutes after taking the field.

New Caledonia did well to keep their opponents at bay after going down to ten men when Emile Bearune committed a second yellow offence.

Big Play: New Caledonia displayed brilliant attacking football in the first half.

Star Turn: Roy Krishna entered the field in the second half, boosted the side, lifted the momentum and scored the equaliser.

Comments: Vodafone Fijian football coach Christophe Gamel;

“We started the game badly, no intensity and no rhythm.

“That’s why New Caledonia gained the early lead. I have warned my team before that they are very good players and they come into the game very fast so I was really upset about that,” he said.

“In the second half I was very happy because making this kind of comeback requires a big performance and the boys had given everything and respected our game plan for the second half.

Vodafone Fijians Saula Waqa celebrates for scoring the first goal against New Caledonia during the FIFA World Cup Russia™ Qualifiers – OFC Stage 3 at Churchill Park in Lautoka yesterday. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

Vodafone Fijians Saula Waqa celebrates for scoring the first goal against New Caledonia during the FIFA World Cup Russia™ Qualifiers – OFC Stage 3 at Churchill Park in Lautoka yesterday. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

“We could have won this game – we missed two or three one on ones with the goalkeeper – but that’s football. I’m happy about the result.”

New Caledonia coach Thierry Sardo said; “Fiji is a good team, it was a difficult game because we have young players but I’m satisfied with their performance.  I think my  team played better with 10 men.”

Edited by Osea Bola

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