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Fiji U-17s await final selection

Fiji U-17 coach Shalen Lal will name his final 20-man squad for the upcoming OFC U-17 Championship on Friday. Image: OFC via Phototek

Young Fijian football hopefuls await the call from Fiji U-17 coach Shalen Lal for their chance to represent Fiji at the 2017 OFC U-17 Championship held in Tahiti next month.

After hours of player analysis and training sessions with the current 24-man squad, Lal confirmed that the final travelling 20 will be announced tomorrow.

“Right now no one is guaranteed a spot in the final 20-member squad,” he said.

“The 24 players have got their visas and the four players that will be dropped are going to be our non-travelling reserves and still part of the squad if we qualify for the U-17 World Cup,” he added.

Among the 24 fighting for a first team spot is recent OFC Education Centre student-athlete Mohammed Nazil, who recently returned to Fiji after spending three months in Auckland as part of the development programme.

Despite the depth of talent in the squad, Nazil is confident in being selected and believes it is a crucial step towards achieving his dream of becoming a professional football player.

“My mission is to be the second player from Fiji to become one of the overseas based players. As Roy Krishna has made it to the Wellington Phoenix, I want to follow his footsteps,” he said.

“We have been training really hard and as the selection day comes near, we are getting pretty nervous but I am pretty sure I will make it to the final squad,” he added.

The selected 20 leave for New Zealand on Sunday to play four warm-up matches against the Papua New Guinea U-17 national team, the New Zealand U-17 national team, and two other Auckland based teams, and Lal is relieved to have four non-travelling reserves ready for the call to come play.

“From our warm-up matches we are taking into account injuries and that is why our non-travelling reserves have got their visas and can join the team if needed,” he said.

The 2017 OFC U-17 Championship kicks off on 11 February (local time). Fiji will face Solomon Islands in their first clash on 12 February, before taking on New Zealand and Samoa for a place in the semi-finals.

For more on Fiji football visit fijifootball.com.fj

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