Heavy rain fails to hold back Fiji’s young footballers

Photo: Kirk Corrie/OFC

Fiji battled not just a resilient Tonga team but torrential rain to record a 3-0 win in the final pool game at the Oceania Under-17s championship in Tonga.

Kick-off was delayed by 45 minutes due to the rain that had hit Fiji in the previous 24 hours.

Fiji scored after just eight minutes and added two more in the second half when the rain had eased off.

Tempers flared at the end of the first half, after the ball was moved to the corner of the Tongan half, and a scuffle broke out.

After the referee brought the situation under control, a red card was shown to Fiji’s Sailimone Ravonokula, the first dismissal of the tournament.

Bula Boys coach Sunil Kumar said he had to tell his players to remain calm.

“I told the boys we are winning, and we don’t need to panic. So, we set a plan on how to counter them and we started the second half well with 10 players,” he told FBC.

Kumar added that he will emphasise controlling their temper in highly pressured situation and focus on discipline.

It was the second win for Fiji, after they defeated Samoa 3-0 in their opening game, and they finished top of Group A.

After the game the quarter-final draw was made with Fiji to play the Cook Islands.

In the other last eight matches, tournament favourites New Zealand face Vanuatu, Tahiti play Tonga and New Caledonia are paired with Samoa. The games take place this weekend.

New Zealand have been impressive so far, recording a 3-2 win over New Caledonia and an 11-0 thrashing of American Samoa.

Tahiti have also notched three wins, having seen off Vanuatu 2-1 and followed it up with a 6-0 win over the Cook Islands.