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Fiji leaves lasting impression

The Oceania underdogs were downed 8-1 by Germany in their FIFA U-20 World Cup opener and now stand a genuine chance of progressing to the knock-out stages of the competition following their resounding victory this evening.
Incredulousness at this spectacular feat enveloped the squad following the match with Fiji Technical Director Ravinesh Kumar elated to see his former charges excel so highly on the world stage.
Meanwhile it was a cool, calm and collected coach Frank Farina who fronted the press in the post-match Press Conference at Christchurch Stadium this evening.
“I’m very pleased. The boys followed on from, particularly, the second half against Germany. We started well today and we planned to press a lot higher up the park which I think frustrated Honduras a little bit, and we were winning possession in good areas.
“Overall I’m very pleased for the players and we’re still alive so that’s good.”
The scorer of Fiji’s first goal in a FIFA tournament – Iosefo Verevou – was once again in impressive form as he latched onto a pass from his club teammate and best friend Setareki Hughes, firing a powerful effort into the far corner.
That opener was followed up by lofty striker Saula Waqa who, after Verevou hit an indirect free kick into the cross bar, looped a shot beyond the keeper for Fiji’s second within the first 15 minutes of the match.
A third goal at the end of the first half was originally attributed to Fijian defender Atonio Tuivuna before going down as an own goal for Honduras’ Kevin Alvarez.
Farina says the side still has everything to play for, with tonight’s performance proving they’re capable of bouncing back stronger than ever.
“The three goals were quite different in nature, but I thought we put enough pressure to create those chances and you can say lucky, whatever, but I think sometimes you make your own luck.
“We are strong defensively, but you can’t aim to defend for 80-90 minutes so our goal today was to press a lot higher up the park and I thought we did that well.
“The group is wide open, we’ve got everything to play for in that last game which is a wonderful situation for a small country like Fiji to be in. We’re fighting to potentially go through. We’ll enjoy the next 24 hours and then it’s back to preparing for Uzbekistan.”
Farina says the motivation for the side is proving themselves worthy of being in this competition, something he believes they’ve done with this win.
It is 12 years since an Oceania side has won a match at this level, with Australia the last side to record a win back in 2003, three years before they exited the OFC to join the Asian Football Confederation.
“It’s the first time an Oceania side has won a game at this world cup since 2003 and that’s a great honour for Fiji to have, particularly in their first-ever appearance.”
Fiji will travel north to Whangarei for their final Group F match against Uzbekistan on Sunday 7 June.
OFC Media

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