August 13, 2018
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Fiji bows out of OFC U19 Championship

Fiji’s campaign in the 2018 OFC U19 Championship ended in Tahiti today after its 1-1 draw against New Caledonia in the final group match.

The Bal Sanju Reddy coached side after losing 1-0 to the Solomon Islands needed a win in this fixture to progress to the semifinals from Group B.

Both Fiji and New Caledonia entered the match with 3 points each.

New Caledonia however had better goal difference after its 7-1 win over Vanuatu and a narrow 3-2 loss to Solomon Islands.

Fiji managed to score first in the match through Tavua marksman Ratu Kaliova Dau.

New Caledonia was denied in injury time of the first half as goalkeeper Mohammed Alam brilliantly saved a Cyril Drawilo’s penalty shot.

Fiji worked hard in the second half as well but a 62nd minute strike from Drawilo leveled scores and the final outcome favored the New Caledonians who will now play New Zealand in the semifinals.

Group B winners Solomon Islands will face host Tahiti in the second semifinal.

Coach Reddy in an interview with OFC Media after the match said it was an incredibly disappointing way to end the competition especially with his team having performed well throughout each of their three matches.

“Overall we’re disappointed, we wanted to qualify,” he said.

“The start was good but conceding that goal killed our spirit. If we had scored the opportunity at the start of the second half that would have killed off New Caledonia, but unfortunately we couldn’t,” Reddy explained.

“The boys played really well, they gave everything, but we were just unlucky not to make it.”

The finalists of the Championship will feature in the FIFA U20 World Cup in Poland.

By Reginald Chandar

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