The Fiji Football Association has named a 24-strong preliminary squad made up of a handful of familiar faces for the OFC Futsal Nations Cup 2019 scheduled to kick-off in October at the Aréne du Sud in Noumea.
Fiji FA Futsal Development Officer, Mira Sahib, said the team is expected to go into camp on Monday 5 August with the final squad to be named in September.
In 2010 the likes of former captain Kamal Hassan and Fiji’s greatest export Roy Krishna once adorned the court, but a rule change in 2015 meant footballers weren’t able to play across codes, an attempt by Fiji FA to encourage players to specialise in just one discipline. However, that rule was abandoned earlier this year.
The change has been welcomed by Sahib, who is also set to make his debut as coach following his international retirement.
“It is a big advantage because currently we don’t have many futsal players as we have just restarted futsal. We tried to separate the code but we could not get the best.”
Sahib said that football experience is an added bonus for his team.
“Now more players get to be included so the pool of players got bigger and we are able to pick the best available players,” Sahib explained.
“Also the emotion of the game takes time for a player to develop and football players playing tournaments in front of big crowds have already developed themselves and it makes it very easy for the coach to work with.”
The following players have made the training squad:
Suva: Iosefo Verevou, Filipe Baravilala, Vineet Nadan, Krishneel Singh, Sahil Dave, Kaliova Tivulu, Akitesh Kumar, Shameet Kumar, Emori Raqata.
Nadi: Patrick Joseph, Mohammed Salmeen, Shafeem Buksh, Rajneet Kumar, Hussaini Khan.
Rewa: Joseteki Tamudu, Setareki Hughes, Bruce Hughes, Tevita Warainivalu.
Labasa: Anish Khem, Ashneel Raju.
Nasinu: Manasa Levaci,
Navua: Anish Kumar.
Tailevu Naitasiri: Meli Ligaloa.
Lami: France Catarogo
The OFC Futsal Nations Cup will take place in New Caledonia from 28 October to 1 November, with eight OFC Member Associations competing. The top two teams from each group progress to the semi-finals of the tournament, with the eventual winner awarded direct entry to the 2020 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Lithuania.