Out of contention for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, the Fiji national team now have full focus on redemption as they start preparations for the qualifying stages of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™.
The football-mad Melanesian nation reached Stage 3 of the OFC qualifiers after finishing in the top six in the 2016 OFC Nations Cup, but were then drawn in a tough group with New Caledonia and OFC Nations Cup champions New Zealand in Group A.
With two wins against Fiji and four points after their encounter with New Caledonia, New Zealand topped the group and will progress to the final, but Fiji coach Christophe Gamel feels hopeful about his side’s next chance on the world stage after witnessing huge improvement during his time at the helm.
“There have been a lot of positive comments about the match against New Zealand,” he said.
“You can see the change in the way they play.”
Gamel is now treating the upcoming Stage 3 matches against New Caledonia in June as an opportunity to get further international football under their belts.
“We need to play more international friendly games if we want to have an experienced and developed side in time for the 2022 World Cup.”
Following their New Caledonia fixtures, Gamel plans on maintaining the team’s momentum and organising build-ups matches with nations outside of the region.
“I’m looking at Fiji playing in the FIFA international friendly window next year,” he said.
“I will start my plan for the 2022 World Cup qualifying event with a visit to Asia. I will meet with the Asian national teams and arrange build-up matches.
“For the next two years I want to ensure that we play Asian teams and then move on to Qatar and Europe to play teams like Qatar and Hungary.”
Gamel also plans to expose the team to the international standard by providing individual players with more opportunities in high-level football, and has already acted on foreign demand for two of his players.
“I don’t want to reveal names until everything is confirmed but I hope to finalise the deal for two players soon,” Gamel said.
“It will be good for the players to play professional football overseas like Wellington Phoenix’s Roy Krishna.”
The Fiji national team will play New Caledonia in their final two-legged Group A match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ OFC Stage 3 qualifiers in June.