Con­sis­tency Key To Lions Win

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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.

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