Fiji have a perfect win record from its first two matches while opponents Papua New Guinea’s campaign suffered a hiccup after a 1-1 draw with American Samoa.
Host nation coach Ravinesh Kumar was delighted to secure another three points after a tough 2-0 win over New Caledonia and wants his team’s positive attitude to continue.
“The boys played a good game and on top of that New Caledonia were a good opponent so the result was good in the end. We will take all the games seriously as we have been doing with American Samoa, New Caledonia and now Papua New Guinea,” he says.
For Fiji’s opponents the unexpected slip-up with American Samoa has left the Wynton Rufer-coached side with some ground to make up.
Rufer says a big miss for Papua New Guinea could be goalkeeper Vagi Koniel who suffered a recurrence of a knee injury while midfielder Joshua Talau is suspended after his part in an end of match fracas versus American Samoa.
“Our boys struggled and they didn’t deliver and the discipline of some of my players on the bench was also disgraceful and we fully deserved the red card for Joshua Talau.
“Vagi had a dislocation of the knee cap about two months ago and he’s recovered quite well from that but his first game since the injury was the 2-0 win against the Solomon Islands.
“He did well in that match but we think he may have reinjured the knee which means he probably won’t be able to play the next game.
“But miracles happen, we’re always looking for miracles as we were in the second half here against American Samoa. But at this stage we’re unsure if Vagi is going to be able to play in the Fiji game,” he says.
While Fiji search for their third consecutive win two teams at the opposite end of the ladder are still in pursuit of their first victories.
Solomon Islands and New Caledonia were two pre-tournament favourites for some but the talented squads have so far failed to fire with just one draw to show between the pair of them.
Both teams classify Tuesday’s match as another “must-win” affair with failure to do so almost certainly counting the loser out of the FIFA U-20 World Cup race.
Solomon Islands assistant coach Gideon Omokirio didn’t mince words in his analysis of what his team must do when they take on New Caledonia.
“We need to win all of our games. We wanted to win the game with Vanuatu after the loss to Papua New Guinea, but unfortunately it didn’t come our way. We really needed victory very badly.
“We need to win all of our remaining games – a draw is not good enough anymore,” he says.
If Omokirio’s team face an all-or-nothing scenario, New Caledonia’s situation is just as critical after back to back defeats.
But Omokirio’s counterpart Mathew Delcroix says Les Cagous must keep believing in their chances of finishing top of the group despite their desperate position.
“With three games left why not keep believing in a qualification perhaps courtesy of a faux pas from one of our adversaries? For the Solomon Islands match we’re going to start with some recovery because we’re heading into the third game and it’s starting to become difficult, physically, for everyone.
“After that, we will continue to give our best and will certainly try to beat the Solomon Islands,” he says.
As the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia tough matters out, the tournament’s only other unbeaten team Vanuatu will target all three points from its showdown with plucky American Samoa.
Confidence in the American Samoa camp may be tempered somewhat by a cursory glance at the two nations previous encounters that reveal a pair of big wins for Vanuatu with 22 goals for and none conceded.
But Vanuatu assistant coach Anthony Pisano views his team’s performance against the Solomon Islands with an air of caution.
“We really need a win against Fiji next Thursday so we’ll be working hard at training today and work on a few of the issues that we had against the Solomon Islands, namely our poor decision making although our guys did quite well. They were aggressive and well done to a good Solomons team,” he says.
Both teams approach the match with key players suspended.
Midfield livewire Rafael Rocha sits this game out following his red card in the draw with Papua New Guinea while powerful Vanuatu striker Tony Kaltack misses out after collecting his second caution of the competition in the 0-0 draw with the Solomon Islands.
American Samoa coach Rupeni Luvu says his team may need more big performances from his team and goalkeeper Frederick Maiava.
“It was a good performance from our goalkeeper Frederick Maiava against Papua New Guinea and I’m really happy for him. I was so happy when our goal went in but we needed one, maybe two more to win the match.
“But Vanuatu’s draw with Solomon Islands on Sunday gives us hope, of course. What we’re going to do is assess our game against Fiji and the match with Papua New Guinea and try to develop and do better against Vanuatu,” he says.
Coverage of the matches via live streaming will be available at the official OFC YouTube channel.
Live text updates will be available at www.oceaniafootball.com, while updates and social media comment are on Twitter @OFCFootball and the official Oceania Football Confederation Facebook page.
OFC U-20 Championship – MATCH DAY 3 PREVIEW
This is the official preview of Match Day 3. Please note squads are subject to change.
Fiji v Papua New Guinea
2.30pm local time, Tuesday 27 May
Referee: Bruce GEORGE [VAN]
Assistant Referee 1: Jeremy GARAE [VAN]
Assistant Referee 2: Terry PIRI [COK]
4th Official: Nelson SOGO [SOL]
Head to head: Played 8, Fiji 5 wins, Papua New Guinea 0 wins, 3 draws.
Fiji Form: W-W
FIJ: 1. Nairube MISIWANI [GK], 2. Praneel NAIDU, 3. Ganish PRASAD, 4. Jale DRELOA, 5.Antonio TIVUNI, 6. Mohammed KHAN, 7. Nickel CHAND, 8. Setareki HUGHES, 9.Samuela NAIBENIA, 10. Junior RAO, 11. Josefa KOROI, 12. Ratu Tevita WARANAIVALU, 13. Mataisi TOMA, 14. Ravnit Shelvin CHAND, 15. Saula WAQA,16.Jonetana BUKSH, 17. Kolinio SIVOKI, 18. Al-Taaf Mansoor SAHIB, 19. Ashnil RAJU 20. Shaneel NAIDU [GK]
Coach: Ravinesh KUMAR [FIJ]
Papua New Guinea Form: W-D
PNG: 20. Gibson JIMMY [GK], 2. Abel REDENUT, 3. Jonel KAMBUAL, 4. Ayrton YAGAS, 5. Rodger SAKING, 6. Dirik KOMOLONG, 7. Issac LALO, 9. Papalau AWELE, 10. Steve INIA, 11. Peter DABINYABA, 12. Nigel MALAGIAN, 13. Maya BOB, 14. Freddy TUPANI, 15. Nicky BENJAMIN, 16. Randol BONGI, 17. Ferdahlas NAMUESH, 18. Danny KEVIN, 19. Frederick SIMONGI.
Coach:Wynton RUFER [NZL]
Suspended: 8. Joshua TALAU
Injured: 1. Koniel VAGI [GK]
New Caledonia v Solomon Islands
5pm local time, Tuesday 27 May
Referee: Albert MARU [PNG]
Assistant Referee 1: Folio MOEAKI [TGA]
Assistant Referee 2: Sione TEU [TGA]
Fourth Official: Averii JACQUES [TAH]
Head to head: Played 3, Solomon Islands 3 wins, New Caledonia 0 wins, 0 draws.
New Caledonia Form: L-L
NCL: 1. Yoran WAIMA [GK], 2. Brandon MEAOU, 3. Jordy KAUSUO, 4. Pierre KAUMA, 5. Theo JALABERT, 6. Jorys LALIE, 7. Jim OUKA, 8. Mickael PARTODIKROMO, 9. Raphael OIREMOIN, 10. Joseph ATHALE, 11. Valentin NYKEINE, 12. Didier SIMANE, 13. Eugene SAKILIA, 14. Frederic NEMIA, 15. Johan IDRELE, 16. Jacky WETEWEA, 17. Jacky WEINANE, 18. Marion WARU,20. Thomas SCHMIDT [GK], 21. Josue WATHIEPEL.
Coach: Kamali FITIALEATA [NCL]
Solomon Islands Form: L-D
SOL: 1. Philip MANGO [GK], 2. Rollence MISITANA, 3. Simon DAOI, 4. Loea Erekona LEMIX, 5. Misitana SAMANI, 6. Alffie CHACHA, 7. Edmond TAEVO, 8. Joachim KAIRI, 9. Dunstan QUANAFIA JNR., 10. Jared RONGOSULIA, 11. Herrick LAUTALO, 12. Obed KEVIN, 13. Fred BALA, 14. Atkin KAUA, 15. Leslie RAMO, 16. Timothy BUNABO JNR., 17. Brett HONISAWA, 18. Allen PETER,
19. Timothy BAKALE, 20. James DO’ORO [GK]
Coach: Commins MENAPI [SOL]
American Samoa v Vanuatu
7.30pm local time, Tuesday 27 May
Referee: Ravinesh BEHARI [FIJ]
Assistant Referee 1: Avinesh NARAYRAN [FIJ]
Assistant Referee 2: Paul AHUPU [TAH]
Fourth Official: George TIME [SOL]
Head to head: Played 2, Vanuatu 2 wins, American Samoa 0 wins, 0 draws.
American Samoa Form: L-D
ASA: 1. Fred MAIVA [GK], 2. Johnny SIONE, 3. Neemia KALEOPA, 4. Paul COLLINS, 5. Paia IPINIU, 6. Sam KOME, 7. Rueben LUVU, 9. Ryan PAAGA, 10. Sinisa TUA, 1. Falai KERISIANO, 12. Kaleopa SILIGI, 13. Fala LEVAULA, 14. Tokilupelekina AFU, 15. David ALO, 16. Lotupo LAMETA, 17. Henry LAMETA, 18. Tokoita VAIELI, 23. Sione Haisila MOEAKI [GK].
Coach: Rupeni LUVU [ASA]
Suspended: 8. Rafael ROCHA
Vanuatu Form: W-W
VAN: 1. Charlie WAIVUI [GK], 2. Jaison THOMAS, 3. Goshen DONA, 4. Alphonse LENCY, 5. Joseph IARUEL, 6. Remy KALSARAP, 7. Elie MELITE ROSSI, 8. Justin KOKA, 10. Bong KALO, 11. Alex SANIEL, 12. Andre BULE, 13. Ruben FRANK, 14. Kersom KALSONG, 15. Etienne NAIEU, 16. Jacky RUBEN, 17. Sam IWAI, 18. Kerry IAWAK, 19. Renold IWAI, 24. Ricky DICK [GK]
Coach: Etienne MERMER [VAN]
Suspended: 9. Tony KALTACK