LAUTOKA – Over two months of preparation ends for Fiji tomorrow when they face New Zealand in the opening match of the Olympic Football tournament.
The Fijian squad has been in lockdown since late December in preparation for tomorrow’s match and Coach Carlos Buzzetti believes his sides focus has become more powerful.
“The commitment, the team focus, the dedication is better than ever before and the team has worked very hard to get where they are.
“We know the first game is going to be extremely difficult against New Zealand but they are the favourite to win and this puts the pressure on New Zealand, and takes it off us.
Buzzetti believes the playing field is level among the top teams at the tournament and is not taking anyone lightly.
“I think at this tournament there are four different teams – New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji – who can all take points off anybody. For me there won’t be much between the top teams and it will be a question on the day of who can perform well and who can keep their composure.”
There has been some inclement weather in Fiji over the past week where blue sky’s quickly transforming into rainstorms is not uncommon.
“The weather has been so unpredictable and it’s been raining so much that it’s possible the weather could have an effect on tomorrow’s outcome. If it’s heavy rain it can be a lottery, one mistake and that could be it.”
The result in the opening game is sure to have a large bearing on the tournament, and Buzzetti is enjoying the prospect of looking past the first game.
“After we play New Zealand, and if we can get a result, we will be able to breath better. In saying that we must respect New Zealand. They’re well prepared with good players and are tactically very sound. I’m sure they will respect us too.”
Buzzetti didn’t mention any individual’s he will be relying on for success at the tournament, and insisted that success can only be achieved by the collective.
“No island country – apart from Solomon Islands in Beach Soccer – has ever qualified for any major tournament and in order for us to succeed it can’t be about individual performances, it has to be a team effort.”
Osea Vakatalesau in action for Fiji at the XIII South Pacific Games – Samoa 2007
Match Day 1
OFC Men’s Olympic Football Tournament
Fiji vs New Zealand
Kick-off: 14H00hrs (Fiji Time)