Joy for Fiji after nervous wait

A minute later it erupted into scenes of joy at Takitumu School, after news filtered through that they had qualified through to the semi-finals at their first ever OFC U-17 Women’s Championship.
Despite taking a point from the contest with Papua New Guinea, Fiji had to wait for news that Vanuatu had gone down 5-1 to the Cook Islands in the other Group B match, which was being played at the same time over the CIFA Academy, to confirm their attendance in the semi-finals.
“I couldn’t believe it that we got through. At full time we thought we were out because we didn’t win, and then we heard the result and we were just overjoyed,” says Fiji captain Cecelia Nainima.
“The last goal Papua New Guinea scored I was right there, it was our mistake at the back, so thank goodness we went through.
“We are looking forward to playing New Zealand in the semi-finals, at the very least it is going to give us some more experience at this level.”
After opening their campaign with a dominant 3-0 defeat of the Cook Islands on Match Day 2 Fiji were edged out 3-2 by Vanuatu, leaving them with a nervous wait to find out if they would advance past the group stage on the final day of Group B action.
Coach Yogendra Dutt says the tension was just as high on the bench, as he completed calculations in his head throughout the match, which saw his side come back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to draw even in the 83rd minute.
“We had no idea if we were through, but we were thinking that because we hadn’t won we probably wouldn’t be,” Dutt says.
“Straight after the game we got the news and it was a very special moment for the players and staff.
“The whole way through the game I was talking to our manager asking if we were through or not, but we really didn’t know.
“This is a huge achievement in our first tournament at this level, and something we can all be very proud of.
“Whatever happens from this point on we have achieved our goal of a top-four finish.”
Fiji face New Zealand in the first semi-final on 21 January at the CIFA Academy in Rarotonga.
The match kicks off at 2pm local time and is followed by the second semi-final between Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia at 5pm local time.
For more on Fiji football visit

Related posts