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Invest In Our Women: Yusuf

Invest In Our Women: Yusuf
The Vodafone Fijian Women’s football team after the OFC Womens Nations Cup final in New Caledonia on December 1, 2018. Photo: OFC Media
January 07
12:15 2019

National men’s coach Christophe Gamel has targeted a semi-final spot at the Pacific Games.

The Fiji Football Association wants to invest more in the national women’s team this year, though it admits financing has been a challenge.

The Vodafone Fijian Women’s side progressed to their first ever OFC Women’s Nations Cup final last December, but lost 8-0 to 20th ranked New Zealand.

Fiji FA chief executive officer, Mohammed Yusuf, said the team’s achievements were among the highlights of 2018.

The Marika Rodu- coached side exceeded expectations by reaching the final and showed heart against New Zealand, despite the gulf in experience and resources between the two countries.

The ‘Bula Girls’ came back from a goal down to beat Papua New Guinea 5-1 in the semi-final, in what was the team’s  most eye-catching performance in the competition.

“We need to continue to invest in women’s football as currently we are ranked 72 in the world,” Yusuf said.

“It is important to play more internationals but getting good teams in the region is difficult.”

 

Pacific Games

The men and womens teams now turn their focus to this year’s Pacific Games in Samoa, which is from July 7-20.

National men’s coach Christophe Gamel has targeted a semi-final spot at the Pacific Games.

The mens team last won the competition in 2003 under Australian coach Tony Buesnel, beating New Caledonia 2-0 in the final at the now ANZ Stadium in Suva.

The Fijians scored through cousins, Manoa Masi and captain Esala Masi.

“The OFC under-23 qualifying tournament will also be played in Fiji and that will be the focus this year, along with the Samoan games,” Yusuf said.

“Our selection trials and preparations (for U-23) will start this week and the tournament will be played from September 21 till October 6.”

Fiji FA is negotiating with an international team to play Fiji in the March window, Yusuf said.

Fiji last played an international friendly in September 2018, going down 2-0 to Singapore at Bishan Stadium.

 

Drug problem

Domestically, the football body is battling a player drug problem that hit headlines in 2017.

Random drug tests will continue at tournaments and league games this year in a “crusade” against the problem, Yusuf said.

Although some players have received punishment after recording positive tests, no one has been named.

 

-edited by Leone Cabenatabua

Feedback:  sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

 

 

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