dreaming of another Olympics
Having come up short in their quest to make next year’s Under-20 World Cup finals in Poland, Fiji’s dream of a third appearance at a global tournament now turns to the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa. After beating Vanuatu 3-1 in their opening qualifier for Poland, Fiji lost to an 89th-minute goal against the Solomon Islands to set up a must-win final group game against New Caledonia. They took the lead in first-half injury time through Ratu Dau but then missed chances to wrap the game up and were eliminated when Cyril Drawilo equalised.
Responsible for all of Fiji’s national sides, from under-16 to senior male and female teams, French coach Christophe Gamel says the players “learned a lot” from the qualifying experience.
Gamel played semi-professionally in France and Italy, before coaching in Hungary and Qatar, and then worked as an assistant with Paris Saint-Germain’s women’s section. After his PSG contract elapsed, Gamel sent his CV to fellow Frenchman Didier Chambaron, who was working as head of education at the Oceania Football Confederation and he passed it to OFC’s head of soccer, Patrick Jacquemet.
“The OFC contacted me regarding a position for an [unknown] Oceania country,” recalls Gamel. “I had to compete with other coaches and purpose a project, then after video conferences and Skype meetings I was offered a one-and-a-half-year contract in Fiji.”
The country’s two previous appearances at a major finals were at the 2015 Under-20 World Cup and the following year’s Olympics – both under former Australia striker Frank Farina. Gamel now hopes to follow in Farina’s footsteps, while also boosting the senior side’s prospects, but he accepts it will be far from easy.
“I am going for youth, so some under-19 are [in the senior side] and were playing in our last game, in Malaysia,” says the 46-year-old. “But some of those who made the Under-20 World Cup and Olympics have migrated to New Zealand and Australia. They work there and find it difficult to manage soccer with work and coming home.
“Some like Leroy Jennings hope to be called by their second nation so they don’t want to come, and some are with me because they are able to fit in my philosophy of play.”
Many Fijian youngsters drop football for rugby as they get older as the game offers a better chance of employment. So, to try to improve retention, a weekly stipend of around £50 is on offer from the Fiji FA.
But Gamel insists that the game needs to change if Fiji wants to make a realistic bid to succeed in its aim of qualifying for the 2026 World Cup finals.
“It would be good to create a professional league formed by the Fiji FA and OFC, with obligations for each professional club to have an academy from under-8 to under-19 with one coach per team,” says the coach.
Gamel’s plan remains on the drawing board at present, but after signing a new four-year deal he is targeting a return to the Olympics in 2020 if Fiji can win the next year’s Pacific Games.
draw away to Deportivo Cuenca in the league.
ENGLAND: Defending champions Manchester City kick off their defence of the Premier League title with a 2-0 win at Arsenal.
GERMANY: Robert Lewandowski scores a hat-trick as Bayern Munich beat Eintracht Frankfurt 5-0 to retain the German Super Cup.
HOLLAND: Feyenoord have two men sent off and lose 2-0 to De Graafschap to begin their Eredivisie campaign in disastrous fashion.
QATAR: Baghdad Bounedjah sets a new record for the Qatar Stars League with seven goals in Al Sadd’s 10-1 thrashing of Al Arabi.
SPAIN: Marc-Andre Ter Stegen saves Wissam Ben Yedder’s lastminute penalty as Barcelona beat Sevilla 2-1 to win the Spanish Super Cup in Morocco.
Monday August 13
ENGLAND: Tottenham Hotspur delay the opening of their new stadium due to “issues with the critical safety systems” and will now play home games against Liverpool and Cardiff City at Wembley.
Tuesday August 14
ITALY: Having led Internazionale to the Champions League for the first time since 2011 on the last day of last season, Luciano Spalletti agrees a new three-year deal.
SCOTLAND: Celtic fail to qualify for the Champions League group stage for the first time during Brendan Rodgers’ tenure as they lose to AEK in Greece.
Wednesday August 15
CANADA: Toronto win 5-2 and beat Vancouver Whitecaps 7-4 on aggregate to claim the Canadian Championship for a seventh time.
ENGLAND: Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne suffers a knee injury in training and is expected to be out of action for three months.
SPAIN: Koke and Saul score in extra time as Atletico Madrid beat Real Madrid 4-2 in the UEFA Super Cup, played in Estonia.
Thursday August 16
CHILE: Santiago is chosen as the venue for next year’s Libertadores Cup Final as it finishes with a oneoff game for the first time.
ITALY: Sunday’s Milan v Genoa and Sampdoria v Fiorentina fixtures in Serie A are postponed following the collapse of a motorway bridge in Genoa on Tuesday that killed at least 39 people.
RUSSIA: Trailing 4-0 after the
first leg in Belarus, Zenit beat Dinamo Minsk 4-0 in the return before scoring another four goals in extra time to win their Europa League tie 8-5 on aggregate.
SPAIN: La Liga signs a 15-year deal to play one game a season in the United States.
Friday August 17
FRANCE: Bordeaux suspend coach Gus Poyet for a week after he accuses the club’s owners of selling striker Gaetan Laborde to Montpellier without his knowledge.
MOROCCO: CAF Champions League holders Wydad book a place in the quarter-finals with a 1-0 victory over South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns.
SOUTH KOREA: Paulo Bento, who led Portugal to the Euro 2012 semifinals, is named national coach.
SPAIN: Real Madrid report Internazionale to FIFA over the Italian club’s pursuit of midfielder Luka Modric.
Saturday August 18
GERMANY: Holders Eintracht Frankfurt suffer a shock 2-1 defeat at fourth-tier Ulm in the first round of the German Cup.
ITALY: Ivan Strinic, who joined Milan from Sampdoria after playing in the World Cup Final for Croatia this summer, is ordered to take a break from the game after a heart problem is discovered. Cristiano Ronaldo makes his Serie A debut as Juventus beat Chievo 3-2.
SPAIN: Lionel Messi scores twice as Barcelona get their title defence off to a winning start with a 3-0 victory at home to Alaves.
Sunday August 19
ENGLAND: Watford score away from home for the first time since January as they beat Burnley 3-1.
GERMANY: Thorgan Hazard, Alassane Plea and Raffael all score hat-tricks as Borussia Monchengladbach beat fifth-tier Hastedt 11-1 in the German Cup.
ITALY: Domenico Berardi’s first-half penalty gives Sassuolo a surprise 1-0 victory over Internazionale.
SPAIN: On loan from Milan, Andre Silva gets a hat-trick on his Liga debut as Sevilla win 4-1 away to Rayo Vallecano.
Monday August 20
SCOTLAND: Kenny Miller quits Livingston after seven weeks, with the club convinced that his playermanager role isn’t working while the 38-year-old striker says that he’s not yet ready to hang up his
boots and concentrate on being just a boss.
Tuesday August 21
ARGENTINA: Interim coach Lionel Scaloni says Lionel Messi asked to be left out of the friendlies against Guatemala and Colombia next month but is yet to decide whether his international career is over.
Wednesday August 22
SERBIA: Luka Milivojevic is left out of the squad to face Lithuania and Romania after his criticism of boss Mladen Krstajic at the World Cup. USA: Nine-man New York City draw 1-1 with New York Red Bulls in the Hudson River Derby.
Thursday August 23
BRAZIL: Paolo Guerrero, whose doping ban was lifted so he could represent Peru at the World Cup, has his suspension reimposed and will no longer be able to play for club side Internacional.
PERU: Alianza Lima’s 1-0 loss at home to UTC Cajamarca sees the Apertura title go to Sporting Cristal.
Friday August 24
ARGENTINA: Former international defender Walter Samuel joins the coaching staff of interim national coach Lionel Scaloni.
BRAZIL: The Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo’s main stadium and venue for the opening game of the 2014 World Cup, will not host Copa America matches in 2019.
GERMANY: Bayern Munich begin the defence of their Bundesliga title with a 3-1 win over Hoffenheim.
PALESTINE: Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestinian FA, is banned from attending games in an official capacity for a year after he called on Arab fans to burn Lionel Messi posters and shirts if he participated in an Argentina game in Israel in June. It led to the World Cup warmup match being cancelled.
USA: Josef Martinez sets a new MLS record with his 28th goal of the season as Atlanta United beat Orlando City 2-1. He also equalled another league record by scoring in nine consecutive games.
Saturday August 25
ITALY: Cristiano Ronaldo makes his home debut for Juventus as they beat Lazio 2-0. Milan lose 3-2 away to Napoli.
PORTUGAL: Benfica draw 1-1 with Sporting, while Porto lose 3-2 at
home to Vitoria Guimaraes.
SPAIN: Raul makes his debut as a coach as his Real Madrid under-16 side draw 1-1 with Gamba Osaka.
Sunday August 26
ARGENTINA: Rosario Central beat San Martin Tucuman 2-0 to remain the only side with a 100 per cent record after three league games.
ENGLAND: Watford beat Crystal Palace 2-1 to go joint-top of the Premier League, having won their first three games of a top-flight campaign for the first time.
GERMANY: Borussia Dortmund make an impressive start to the new league season with a 4-1 victory over RB Leipzig.
ITALY: Fans stay silent for the first 43 minutes of Genoa’s 2-1 win over Empoli in tribute to the 43 people killed when a bridge collapsed in the city earlier in the month.
Monday August 27
ENGLAND: Pressure mounts on manager Jose Mourinho as Manchester United lose 3-0 at home to Tottenham Hotspur.
MEXICO: Tigres coach Ricardo Ferretti will take charge of Mexico’s national team for September’s friendlies against Uruguay and the United States.
SPAIN: Rayo Vallecano’s Vallecas Stadium will be closed until at least October after fans complain that renovation work carried out during the summer following promotion to La Liga has left the ground in a dangerous state.
Tuesday August 28
BRAZIL: The home leg of Santos’ Libertadores Cup round-of-16 game against Independiente is abandoned as police clash with fans who had been told 12 hours before kick-off that the Argentinian side had been awarded a 3-0 win after the Brazilian’s fielded an ineligible player in the first leg.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Young Boys win at Dinamo Zagreb and reach the group stage, along with AEK Athens and Ajax, who beat Vidi and Dynamo Kiev respectively.
QATAR: Al Duhail beat Persepolis of Iran 1-0 to equal South Korean side Ulsan Hyundai’s record of nine consecutive wins in a single AFC Champions League season.
SPAIN: Radio network Cadena Ser says former World Cup winner Ronaldo of Brazil has agreed a
€ 30m deal to buy La Liga club Real Valladolid.
Hopeful...Fiji’s Tito Vodowaqa in action against New Caledonia at the OFC Under-19 Championship