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Fiji Football To Honour 1977 Leagends

Fiji Football Association will honor the legends of 1977 who played and won against Australia.

Fiji FA chief executive officer Mohammed Yusuf said these player would be the special quest during the semi-finals and finals of the 2017 Courts IDC in Lautoka.

“We want to recognize and honor these legends by inviting them to our ordinary congress and be our special guest during the tournament,” Yusuf said.

He said they would try to get in touch with the following players and would appreciate assistance from the families and friends in getting their contacts.

The legends who put Fiji Football on the world map were as follows: President Late Manikam Pillay, Secretary Younas Haniif now in New Zealand, Coach John Lal (Sydney), manager Late Moti Musadilal and Director Late Chandar Dip Sharma.

Players were as follow: George Koi (Rewa), Jimmy Okete (Rewa),Vula Wate (Rewa),Anand Sami (Labasa) Late Joasaia Tubuna (Lautoka),Late Akariva Rasumu (Nadi),

Hussein Saheb (Labasa), John Grey (Suva),Madhavan (Tailevu Naitasiri),Tevita Delana (Rewa), Savenaca Waqa (Nadi),Dewan Chand (Tailevu Naitasiri),Mukesh Chand (Suva),Michael Tuilawa (Lautoka), Mun Lal (Suva) and John Monday (Lautoka.

Looking back to the history: It was a wet Sunday afternoon on 19th March 1977 where Fiji and Australia played a friendly at the old Buckhurst Park in Suva. The Australians were on a training/holiday tour to Fiji for a European tour later in the year.

It was going to be a scroll in the park for the Aussies as Fijians had hardly been success against the Australian State teams. Fijians had another setback as all- conquering Ba team was preparing for a tour to New Zealand and none of their seven national players were available.

Coach John Lal had a very difficult task in putting together a team for this fixture, the team director late CD Sharma and manager Late Moti Musadilal were very influential and managed to get the 16 players for camp for this match.

Captain George Koi was his prime with late Lautoka maestro ate Josaia Tubuna.It was an incredible match as both teams rested at nil-all at the breather.

The Australians by then knew they were in battle as the Fijian crowd as vocal as they could cheered their man on. The Australians in the second half tried their magic even with the introduction of their four English based professionals, they were match by the fiery Fijians playing like man possessed.

The Fijian midfield led by Anand Sami, Hussein Saheb and Madhwan matched the Australians and began creating chances for the young striker Jimmy Okete playing his first international. Okete rose to the occasion and out sprinted the Ausie defense after a very clever through pass by Hussein Saheb. The match was held for five minutes as police had to clear the field as the Fijian fans were seeing the unbelievable unfolding in front of them. The match finished with a victory to Fiji.

This win brought Fiji as a nation in the footballing world,before this we were trailing behind the French dominated territories. We lived in their shadows for long but this legends lifted the Fijian football to the eyes of the world.

Two weeks later Captain George Koi was invited by the television network Australia to go live on TV to talk about the match.

It was a great achievement and great pathway for football in the country. Again in 1988 Fiji defeated Australia 1-0.

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