Consistency Key To Lions Win
had been consistent with their performance. They reached the Vodafone Fiji FACT semi-final and the final of the Inkk Mobile Battle of the Giants. At the B.O.G. they played without a coach after Johan Leewai returned to Dreketi, but managed to reach the final where they lost 2-0 to Lautoka. Lal was appointed three weeks before the IDC and was able to turn their misfortunes around. Now the next challenge is to attain a top 2 placing in the Vodafone Premier League and an opportunity to play in the OFC Champions League. But the way things are, they are in a difficult position as Ba, Lautoka, Suva, Nadi and Rewa are going neck-to-neck for the two top spots. But as of now, it’s best for the Propeller Shaft Services sponsored side to celebrate their well-earned win along with their die-hard fans.
ARE WE REALLY SERIOUS? It is heartening to hear Fiji FA vice-president, Tarunesh Reddy say, that they are serious about preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup playoffs. His comments came after confirming that they are working on securing international friendly matches against Asian or American national teams. But our playoff opponents, the New Zealand All Whites are well into their preparations- last Sunday they took on Mexico and narrowly lost 2-1. This weekend they face USA. The All Whites have roped in their top players as they are also serious in wanting to secure a spot at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. With Fiji FA yet to announce the new coach, the list of names of those selected into the extended national squad has been released. And one wonders why reliable Lautoka central defender Peni Finau, striker Valerio Nawatu, Kolinio Sivoki, Pita Rabo, Pita Bolaitoga and Napolioni Qasevakatini were not included. These are experienced players who we can count on when the going gets tough against the All Whites or New Caledonia. Surprisingly, a few of our Vodafone Fijian U20 reps that recently performed poorly at the OFC playoffs in Vanuatu have been named. Not only that, a player who was not even in his district’s run on team during the IDC is also being included.
This is despite the fact that the player who had displaced him was named as one of the best players of the tournament. Again are we really serious? We’ve got to be mindful of the fact that the World Cup qualifiers, is not the place to groom our youngsters. The late national coach Billy Singh showed us how it is done when he roped in aggressive defenders like Pita Dau, Jone Watisoni, Nasoni Buli, Abraham Watkins, Maritino Nemani, Lote Delai and combined them with classy players like Simon Peters, Ravuama Madigi, Ronald Chaudhry, Bimal Sami, Ivor Evans and Ratu Suliano Matanitobua during the 1988 World Cup qualifiers. As a result, they came close to qualifying as they beat the All Whites easily and the Australians during the first of their two matches.