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Fiji draw even with Malaysia

The visitors took the lead in the 44th minute of play when striker Mohammed Yahyah slammed the ball past Benaminio Mateinaqara from inside the box, taking advantage of a lapse in concentration from the Fiji defence.
Home side captain Roy Krishna was on point in the second half scoring the equaliser in the 74th minute from the right flank with a strike that left Malaysian goalkeeper Khairul Mat stunned.
Fiji coach Frank Farina made some timely changes in the second spell that turned the momentum in Fiji’s favour after a the first period that proved beneficial to the visitors.
Savenaca Nakalevu was replaced by Antonio Tuivuna, Anish Khem was substituted with Iosefo Verevou, both coming off the bench to provide some spark in attack after a quiet first spell. Fiji upped the pressure in the final third but some impressive goalkeeping from Malaysia’s Mat denied the hosts from securing a victory.
Farina said it was a good game but there remains many areas to improve on.
“It was a tough game considering the players participated in the Vodafone Fiji FACT last week,“ he said.
“I thought we created enough chances to possibly win the game but we were unfortunate.”
The former Socceroo said it was a bit better in the second half but it was still not exactly what he wanted from his charges.
“We have to be better and need to improve. It was a tough game for the players coming from the Fiji FACT last week, “he added.
“They were in camp for only four or five days and had to go to Suva for medical tests.
“There are no excuses but it could have been better,” he said.
“The performance today is an indication of tiredness mentally and physically. We have to improve both defensively and attacking wise. It is a work in progress.
“We have ten games coming up for the World Cup qualifiers.”
Having focused on the areas his side can work on, Farina also praised Malaysia for the gallant performance. “Malaysia is a good side and they really played well against us, “he said.
His Malaysian counterpart Datuk Kim said it was a difficult game played in very hot conditions. “We could have played better but could not hold on to the first half lead,” Kim said. “Overall the boys tried very hard. The tour has given me a lot of ideas before the Suzuki Cup.”
Fiji will feature in the third round of Oceania’s 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers next year. Malaysia defeated New Caledonia 2-1 and lost to Papua New Guinea 2-0 on the three-match Oceania tour.
Fiji: Benaminio Mateinaqara, Roy Krishna, Meli Codro, Antonio Tuivuna, Setareki Hughes, Ilimotama Jese, Tevita Waranaivalu, Anish Khem, Ilaitia Tuilau, Alvin Singh, Samuela Kautoga.
Malaysia: Khairul Mat, Brendan Gan, Mohammed Shas, Muhammad Mazlan, Mohammad Radzak, Putera Maderner, Kunanlan Subramaniam, Mohammad Yahyah, Chanthuru Suppiah Christie Devasagayam, Mohammad Zainal.

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