SPORTS

For Francine

The Vodafone Fijian Under-19 women’s football side ended their 2017 OFC U19 Women’s Championship campaign on a high note and dedicated their achievement to fallen goalkeeper Francine Lockington. Lockington, who
25 Jul 2017 11:00
For Francine

The Vodafone Fijian Under-19 women’s football side ended their 2017 OFC U19 Women’s Championship campaign on a high note and dedicated their achievement to fallen goalkeeper Francine Lockington.

Lockington, who passed away on July 15, was the inspiration the team needed as they scored an upset 2-1 win over New Caledonia to claim the silver medal. They claimed the second place on the points table behind New Zealand, marking the highest achievement made by any of our women’s football teams.

The Fijians took the lead in the 35th minute through captain and striker Luisa Tamanitoakula who slammed the ball past the New Caledonian goalkeeper Karine Xozame from a freekick. Minutes later, Tamanitoakula extended their lead to 2-0 with her second goal before the New Caledonians pulled one back.

Coach Saroj Kumar told SUNsports yesterday that this was a huge achievement for the team who have dedicated each game to Lockington.

“It has been a heart-touching tournament for us,” Kumar said.

“Losing our goalkeeper and then coming here and winning silver– it’s wonderful for us. It was a tough game today, they played their cards well but the girls were really focused on winning and we tried to press them high when we had the wind. We studied New Caledonia’s game and we tried to press them, force them to make mistakes and then get goals.

“This is definitely the highest that they have ever finished and they are celebrating knowing that all their hard work has been worth it. The girls have dedicated every game to Francine and they have literally played their hearts out for her because they know that’s what she would have wanted. When the girls found out about Francine’s death, that’s the day they had their match against Samoa and they were just crying all over the field.

“They could not hold in their emotions and we ended up with a 2-2 draw against Samoa, but to see them bounce back from our huge loss to New Zealand shows how much Francine death has motivated them to play for her and make her proud.”

New Caledonia coach Kamali Fitialeata said to end with a defeat is a tough way to leave the tournament.

“The first half we didn’t play too well, we let them dominate us and the two goals they scored hurt us. But the girls tried to come back, they fought with everything they had today but it wasn’t enough, so congratulations to Fiji.”

The next assignment for the Fijian U19 women’s team are to prepare for the Pacific Mini Games in Vanuatu in December.

The team arrive in the country today as they make their way to Ba to attend Lockington’s funeral on Wednesday.

 

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