Fiji Football needs to get coach right
We’re only months away from the Vodafone Fijian football team’s participation in the third stage of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) 2018 FIFA World Cup playoff. Our national team take on the New Zealand All Whites on March 20 at home, followed by the return clash on March 28 in New Zealand.
But as of now our national football team is still without a head coach. This is after Fiji Football Association decided to part ways with Frank Farina, after it was alleged that he had failed to adhere to certain conditions on his contract. The vacant position has been advertised. According to Fiji FA vice-president Tarunesh Reddy, a list of applicants has been short-listed. The Board of Control (BOC) is going to through the list before they select the suitable candidate. The board should learn from Farina’s case. His record with A-League clubs in Australia showed that he was a coach on the way down. Funds used on Farina could have been better utilised elsewhere. The board should focus on hiring a coach with qualifications and a proven coaching record that should get us to the next level.
If such an appointment is going to take time, it is understandable. But the onus is on Fiji FA to quickly appoint an interim head coach for next March’s playoffs.
This is despite the fact that Reddy had already indicated that co-coaches Kamal Swamy and Yogendra Dutt are running the show in the team’s preparation. There is a need to select an interim head coach who takes control of the team’s preparation and is answerable to their performance. He needs to bring in his team of coaches, lay out his plans for the upcoming encounters and work with players that he feels can do the job for us.
This should not be a difficult exercise with Fiji FA because over the years, local coaches have proved that they have got what it takes to do the job. Former coaches like John Lal and Billy Singh have coached our national football teams to wins against the New Zealand All Whites and the Australian Socceroos. There are a number of local coaches who are capable of running the show. Dutt and Swamy have vast experience after guiding Ba and Nadi to the O-League competition for a number of years. Dutt should be a front runner as he assisted Farina at the Rio Olympic Games and his many successes with the Ba football side. Swamy is known for his King Midas touch as he coached Nadi and Lautoka to many memorable victories. His only set-back is his health. Other local coaches who should also be considered are current Ba coach Imdad Ali, who guided the MenIn-Black to win this year’s Vodafone Premier League, and Fiji FA technical director Ravinesh Kumar. He coached the Vodafone Fijian Under-20 side that qualified for last year’s FIFA U20 World Cup. The onus is now on the board to select the right person for the job, but if not, then appoint an interim head coach for the upcoming playoffs in March. The countdown clock is ticking. There is no time to leave everything to the last minute. The World Cup and our international reputation are much too important for that.
The point is that you can only be successful in life if you are passionate about what you do and can have the necessary drive to achieve your ambitions and dreams. Then life has a habit of choosing things for you. Voreqe Bainimarama Prime Minister