Fiji edged ahead to defeat Solomon Islands 1-0 in their second international friendly match at Churchill Park in Lautoka on Sunday.
Kolinio Sivoki was the lone goal scorer of the match, securing the win for Fiji from a free kick from just outside the Solomon Islands penalty box in the 60th minute.
An impressive performance from Solomon Islands in the first half saw a few close attempts at goal but a handful of impressive saves from goalkeeper Tevita Koroi kept Fiji in the game.
The match turned in Fiji’s favour in the 58th minute when defender Nelson Sale was given his marching orders after a second yellow card, leaving only 10 Solomon players on the field for the remaining 30 minutes and setting Sivoki up for his winning strike.
Enjoying his first win with the Fiji national team since his appointment as coach three months ago, Christophe Gamel was pleased with the professional style of football displayed by his team.
“I know the type of football the team was playing before and I know these boys had the ability to play better,” he said.
“I really appreciated their performances, they are heroes today.”
Fiji captain Amani Makoe was also pleased with his team’s improved performance, especially with such a short amount of time to change weaker aspects from their previous match.
“We made few mistakes in our previous match last Thursday and we went back to camp to fix it before our game today. It was a good and a tough match but we made it,” he said.
Despite the narrow loss, Solomon Islands coach Filipe Vega-Arango Alonso was impressed with the standard of football displayed in the match and is feeling confident ahead of their 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ OFC Stage 3 matches against Papua New Guinea next month.
“I’m happy with the way they played and responded to the game,” he said.
“I got to see how they to play together as a team and how they play under pressure and for me everything was positive.”
Solomon Islands will play Papua New Guinea at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara on 9 June and at PNG Football Stadium in Port Moresby on 13 June in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ OFC Stage 3 qualifiers.
Fiji will play New Caledonia in their final matches of OFC Stage 3 at Churchill Park in Lautoka, Fiji, on 7 June and at Stade Numa Daly in Noumea, New Caledonia, on 11 June.