Fiji Coach Rob Sherman says defence was a huge let down in their 3-1 loss to host nation and defending champions New Zealand in the OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifier 2023 at the Go Media Stadium in Auckland on Wednesday.
Sherman said they failed to resist the pressure play from New Zealand which saw them concede three goals in the opening half.
“We started brightly with some good possession but all in fairness New Zealand got the tall hold in the game. I’m reasonably happy and disappointed for not getting the result we wanted.”
“They started to pressurise us which saw them score some shady goals. We contributed to deflection so while we are disappointed the boys showed real character and lifted their performance in the second half.”
“I wouldn’t want to make excuses that the weather got in our way. New Zealand were a little tack-tickle in their movement which showed challenges from their front five which we failed to deal with. We rectified that in the second half and they didn’t trouble us with that movement in the rest of the game.”
While acknowledging the players good character, Sherman highlighted some of the key challenges New Zealand had put forward to them which the Fijians managed to counter in the second half.
“Little bit of tack-tickle superiority took hold for a short spell, we showed character to stay in the game till half time and in the second half, I thought we were a better team.”
“One of our strategies was not to let anything through and at times we got a little stressed and New Zealand was clever in overloading the balls at the centre half and midfield play which caused us little problems which we didn’t anticipate. Ironically, it was a ploy that we intended to do in the attacking play and we improved in the second half.”
“Lots of positives to take out of the defeat in the sense that we have shown we can adapt, hold our game plan and execute.”
Fiji plays their all-important Group A match against Papua New Guinea at 3pm on Saturday.