Fiji ready to compete

Kumar has settled on a side that varies in experience, with a mix of 2013 U-20 and U-17 players included, as well as some fresh faces.
Fiji finished runners-up at the OFC U-20 Championship in 2013 and the six players returning from that campaign will bring a level of experience that is sure to aid the cause.
Four players will make the step up from U-17 level while the side will feature ten players who will make their OFC debut.
“We have some players from the U-17 and we have some retained some from last year’s U-20 who are eligible to play. I would say it’s a good mixture.”
Kumar says the side’s intensive preparations, which included two matches against the New Zealand U-20 team, have prepared them well for the upcoming Championship.
While they won all four matches against Auckland-based club sides and a New Zealand-based Fiji U-20 squad, they also suffered two defeats, 5-0 and 4-1, at the hands of the Junior All Whites. However Kumar says those losses will merely aid the sides development ahead of the competition.
“The performance of the players cannot be analysed simply by looking at the scorelines, but by the performance, confidence and possession,” he explains.
“Of course the scoreline doesn’t look good but at the end we were satisfied with the performance and the way our players interacted with the Junior All Whites because they have a couple of good players from Australia. We were satisfied with the players especially as the performance in the second match was well above that of the first, showing some improvement.”
With tickets to the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup as an incentive Kumar says it would be an historic moment in Fiji football if the squad could qualify on home soil. But is aware it won’t be an easy feat.
“I would say every team will be preparing well because they know the chances of qualifying for the FIFA U-20 World Cup. We will take each team one-by-one.”
He says the opportunity to compete for the regional title on home soil is sure to offer an advantage to the Fiji team.
“There will be an advantage because they will be gaining some confidence having the home crowd with their families and friends in it.”
While he is keeping his cards very close to his chest in terms of his team’s chances, Kumar says one thing is for sure – the side will give their all.
“I will say that we will perform to the best of our ability, but I won’t say anything about winning or losing. We will be doing our best in the tournament,” he says.
Fiji U-20 squad
Shaneel NAIDU
Misiwani NAIRUBE
Kolinio SIVOKI
Josefa KOROI
Mohammed KHAN
Mataiasi TOMA
Praneel NAIDU
Setareki HUGHES
Narendra RAO
Jonetani BUKSH
Nickel CHAND
Al-taaf SAHIB
Ravnit CHAND
Saula WAQA
Ashnil RAJU

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