Fiji face tough path

The tournament takes place at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland from September 29 to October 8 and Fiji are in Group B alongside Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tonga.
Hosts and defending champions New Zealand head Group A and will be joined by Vanuatu, Cook Islands and Tahiti.
Each side will be battling it out for the chance to represent Oceania at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany next year.
Ali is under no illusions as to how tricky that task could prove to be.
“I think we are in a tough pool, even without New Zealand,” he says.
“There are very good teams in our pool with the likes of Papua New Guinea and Tonga. These teams have maintained their squad for the last few years and must have matured. Fiji can expect some tough opposition during the playoffs.”
Fiji found out just how difficult an opponent Tonga can be at the South Pacific Games in 2007. The side had breezed through pool play with wins over Cook Islands, American Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, and looked odds on to take the title.
But the Tongans upset them with a 1-0 semi-final win and they had to settle for bronze after beating Tahiti by the same scoreline in the playoff for third.
That tournament was the national women’s team last meaningful outing and they did not take part in that year’s OFC Women’s Nations Cup in Papua New Guinea.
To make sure they are ready for this one, the national senior and U-18 sides participated in the 2010 Inkk Mobile Battle of the Giants women’s competition.
Ali believes that game time will prove beneficial by the time the tournament rolls around.
He is impressed by how hard some members of the squad have worked.
“If you look at the national senior women players they have improved a lot since they came to camp,” Ali says.
“I can see that some girls have dropped 10 or 11 kilos of weight. That shows how committed and determined they are to represent their country.”
Ali also has high hopes for the younger generation.

“The U-18 team which we have been molding for about 18 months are proving to be equally good. Some of the players are proving better than some of our senior national players.”
For the latest news visit the Fiji FA website

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