Welcome To Fiji, Dane Flemming Serristslev! You Have Work To Do

Serristslev’s first assignment will be with the 163-ranked men’s team in two friendly matches against Tahiti and Solomon Islands as part of a FIFA Tri-nations series here next month.
08 Feb 2020 15:14
Welcome To Fiji, Dane Flemming Serristslev! You Have Work To Do
Fiji Football Association president Rajesh Patel and new Vodafone Fijian national football team coach Flemming Serristslev. Photo: Fiji FA Media

The new Vodafone Fijian football coach, Flemming Serristslev, has vowed to make Fiji a dominant force in the region.

The goal is vague with no specific targets but speaks to a number of fans who believe Fiji has the potential to be much more competitive in Oceania.

His predecessor, Christophe Gamel, currently interim head coach of Belgian club KSV Roeselare, had similar ambitions but ultimately failed to measure up to the task.

But there was some optimism at Serristslev’s arrival given his experience with the Papua New Guinea national side where he spent three years.

The Danish coach will take charge of the national men’s, women’s and youth teams.

The 72-year-old has signed a three-year deal with the Fiji Football Association, which gives him time to implement his own philosophy.

Part of that will be putting in place systems and processes that create a culture of high performance and help identify top talent from youth, club and district level.

To be the best in the region will mean regularly beating New Zealand, a country with more resources, better infrastructure and top sporting expertise.

Serristslev’s first assignment will be with the 163-ranked men’s team in two friendly matches against Tahiti and Solomon Islands as part of a FIFA Tri-nations series here next month.

Both teams are ranked higher than Fiji and the result will in some ways be a reflection of our standing.


While one month is too short a time to judge a new coach as major changes do not happen overnight, the fans will be expecting a positive performance.

It will be interesting to note Serristslev’s approach in the two games.

Does he open up and take risks against two teams known for their attacking prowess; or will he choose the safer option and play a more cautious game?

Coaches often talk about finding the balance between attack and defence.

Frenchman Gamel preferred to play with an extra body in midfield – usually Nadi defender Ame Votoniu – and two central defenders at the back.

His side was happy to concede possession, absorb attacks then hit teams on the break with pressure on striker Roy Krishna to nick a goal or two.

The fullbacks were usually asked to stay back and the wingers tucked in so as to flood the midfield and make the field more compact.

There was little entertainment, minimal creativity and always the feeling that the team should not be playing in such a restrictive manner.


The strategy did work in some games but became too predictable against stronger opposition, with the team appearing to have no Plan B when they fell behind.

Judging by how he organised his PNG teams, Serristslev may opt for a different approach.

He will likely build the team around Krishna in a way that gives the striker the freedom to focus on his own game.

That will probably mean injecting a bit more creativity from midfield and partnering him with a forward who can share the workload.

Ba’s Samuela Drudru is the first name that comes to mind.

Drudru scored 21 times for Lautoka in all competitions last season and has won 12 caps with the national side.

But the striker has been inconsistent of late and has a tendency to switch off in the latter stages of games which could force Serristslev to look elsewhere.

In defence, there is perhaps a need to groom players who, rather than launch long balls forward, have the ability to start attacks from the back.

German-based Nicolas Prasad already has that skill-set having started his career as a midfielder; so does Stoke City defender Scott Wara.

Serristslev will hope to get Wara more involved with the team, with his ball-playing abilities and physical presence at the back important attributes.

But the prospects of him playing for Fiji again look bleak and perhaps it is time to move on.

The 20-year-old has not featured since his debut in a 1-1 draw against the Solomon Islands in 2018.

Overseas-based players bring a certain degree of professionalism and quality to the national team.

Getting local-based players contracts to play abroad has proven a difficult task so far but Serristslev should consider addressing that as a priority.

His appointment was viewed by many as a step in the right direction for Fiji FA.

Serristslev brings roughly 40 years experience to the table and has coached teams in Europe and Africa.

The task that lies ahead will by no means be an easy.

There will likely be more setbacks than achievements.

But with the right amount of commitment and support, Fiji might just be able to dominate and improve on the FIFA rankings.

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua


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