Fiji have announced their U-19 squad in preparation for the OFC U-19 Championship and have cast the net far and wide to find the 25 players who make up coach Ronil Lal’s team.
Players from New Zealand, Australia, the United States and England, as well as plenty of footballers currently based in Fiji, made up the 46 hopefuls who took part in a recent U-19 trial in Suva.
Six overseas players have made the final squad, including Australian-based Mohammed Mustafa and Abdullah Aiyas, New Zealand-based Caleb Aaron Prasad and Aydin Ashaz Mustahib and UK-based Oliver McFadyen and Peter Ravitisai, who also featured at the OFC World Cup qualifiers in Qatar in March.
McFadyen has caught the eye, with Fiji’s men’s national coach Flemming Serritslev singing the praises of the Manchester-based winger during his recent commentary post for the OFC Champions League National Playoff between Rewa FC and Lautoka FC.
McFadyen, whose late grandfather was a Suva FC fan, heard about the trials through a friendship with Ravai, as he revealed to FijiLive earlier this month.
After sending over a video highlight package to the FFA, the 18-year-old was invited over and will now be hoping to have an impact when the team head to Tahiti in September.
Combining overseas talent with homegrown youngsters has Serritslev excited about the current batch of Fijian youngsters.
“We actually feel we had the opportunity to select the best U-19 squad that ever has been done in Fiji with the number of local and overseas players,” said Serritslev.
“We have named the best 25 players, but it is possible the squad may change as we don’t know what will happen in the period of two and half months before the competitions.
“I am very optimistic we will have the best team to compete in the OFC U-19 Championship. Our goal is to qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup.”
Lal, who will coach the team in Tahiti, says he is happy with the squad assembled by selectors Serritslev, FFA technical director Timo Jankowski and U-16 coach Sunil Kumar.
“We had 46 players and it was not an easy task to select the best players,” said Lal.
“But we had the panel who have seen the potential of the position of players we needed.”
Fiji’s U-19s will head into a training camp at the FFA Academy in Ba from July 4 in preparation for the OFC U-19 Championship, which is earmarked to take place this September in Tahiti.