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‘Bula Boys’ Go Down Battling

  The Vodafone Fijian football side fought gallantly as they went down 2-1 to New Caledonia in their 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia- OFC Stage 3 qualifiers in Noumea last
12 Jun 2017 18:10
‘Bula Boys’ Go Down Battling
Epeli Saukuru shields the ball away against New Caledonia. Saukuru scored Fiji’s goal in their 2-1 loss on June 11, 2017. Photo: OFC Media

 

The Vodafone Fijian football side fought gallantly as they went down 2-1 to New Caledonia in their 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia- OFC Stage 3 qualifiers in Noumea last night.

The hosts started strongly as they went on attack but the Fijian defence led by Remueru Tekiata stood tall. Goalkeeper Tevita Koroi had to receive medical treatment after he was fouled by the New Caledonians during an aerial battle while clearing a corner kick in the17th minute.

The Christophe Gamel coached-side came close to scoring in the 21st minute when a Samuela Kautoga’s diving header from an Epeli Saukuru cross narrowly missed.

The hosts began to pile the pressure on the Fijian defence and in the 43rd minute defender Kavaia Rawaqa handled the ball in the box and referee Nobert Hauata pointed to the penalty spot. The kick was taken by Emile Ounei who neatly placed it past Koroi as they took a 1-0 lead at halftime.

The Fijians came out looking for the equaliser in the second spell with star striker Roy Krishna coming in for the hardworking Saula Waqa in the 52nd minute while Laisenia Raura was replaced by Dave Radrigai.

In the 59th minute New Caledonia’s Joseph Athale copped a yellow card for a foul on Krishna.

Koroi maintained his fine performance by pulling off remarkable saves from attempts made by Richard Sele and Ounei.

In the 66th minute Fiji got the equaliser when Saukuru scored from a cross. In the 71st minute Kautoga was called back for offside when he ran into an open goal mouth.

The hosts regained the lead in the 73rd minute when Sele capitalised on a rebound to score.

The Fijians threw everything into the game with Krishna’s attempts in injury time were saved by Mickael Ulile.

Fiji line-up: Tevita Koroi, Kavaia Rawaqa, Remueru Tekiata, Christopher Wasasala, Epeli Saukuru, Amani Makoe (Iosefo Verevou), Waisake Tabucava, Saula Waqa (Roy Krishna), Ilaitia Tuilau, Samuela Kautoga, Dave Radrigai (Laisenia Raura).

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