FOR­MER FOOT­BALL STAR SLAMS PLAY­ERS

• Masi to play­ers: Leave foot­ball if you want to do drugs. • He has also ac­cused some play­ers of dis­re­spect­ing the sport.

Fiji Sun - - Sport - Edited by Shel­don Chanel WAISEA NASOKIA Feed­back: [email protected]­sun.com.fj

Aformer na­tional foot­ball cap­tain has called for harsher pun­ish­ments to com­bat drugs in the sport, adding that an un­com­pro­mis­ing stance was the

only way to erad­i­cate the prob­lem. For­mer Fiji and Ba striker Esala Masi, who also had a dis­tin­guished pro­fes­sional ca­reer with the Wol­lon­gong Wolves in Aus­tralia, has slammed play­ers that are not re­spect­ing the sport.

Masi, who com­peted at the re­cent RC Manub­hai/APCO Coat­ings In­ter­na­tional Veter­ans Tour­na­ment for the Bris­bane Bula Boys, was Fiji’s only pro­fes­sional player for some time un­til Roy Kr­ishna en­tered the scene.

The 45-year-old’s most no­table achieve­ment came in 2000 when he won the Aus­tralian Na­tional Soc­cer League (now the Hyundai A-League) with Wol­lon­gong.

He also led Fiji to their last Pa­cific Games gold medal tri­umph, scor­ing twice in a 2-0 win over New Cale­do­nia in Suva at the 2003 event.

Masi has praised Ba and Fiji Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion for sus­pend­ing play­ers for is­sues re­lated to drugs and gen­eral in­dis­ci­pline.

“Since I’ve been in the coun­try, I’ve talked to some play­ers for them to ei­ther play foot­ball or go out drinking; they can’t do both,” he said. “Play­ers get­ting sus­pended from Ba on the eve of a ma­jor game is dis­ap­point­ing for the dis­trict.

“Those play­ers with re­peated of­fenses should be kept out of soc­cer for two years so that they re­alise what they are miss­ing and hope­fully when they do come back, they change their at­ti­tude.”

Five play­ers tested pos­i­tive for drugs, be­lieved to be mar­i­juana, at the re­cent INKK Mo­bile Bat­tle of the Gi­ants tour­na­ment.

Masi be­lieves Fiji FA should in­ten­sify their ran­dom check pol­icy, which he said was not im­ple­mented dur­ing his time.

“I think it is the in­di­vid­ual player’s dis­ci­pline, re­spect­ing the game that is one thing that we lack,” he said. “In terms of devel­op­ment, I think Fiji Foot­ball is on the right track. I think I have heard from a lot of peo­ple and from the pres­i­dent they are do­ing the right job.”

Esala Masi.

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