Fiji Foot­ball needs to get coach right

Fiji Sun - - Comment - LEONE CABENATABUA Feed­back: leonec@fi­jisun.com.fj

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

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