August 18, 2022
Stylish striker Mohammed Shazil Ali scored the lone goal as Fiji made a winning start beating USA 1-nil in the Digicel Ram's Cleaning Services FANCA Nations Cup at Nadi's Prince Charles Park yesterday.
Dubbed the match of the day, the encounter between two of the most experienced and star-studded teams on the tournament opener gave fans full value of every dollar they spent to witness the 60 minutes of action.
Former Fijian reps Kamal Hassan and Rizwan Hussein posed threats and kept national team goalkeeper Alzaar Alam busy who put on a brave show.
The USA fielded Lema Afsqat, a goalkeeper from Afghanistan in their starting lineup and the international man had a tough debut as he was up against the likes of experienced players William Valentine, Edward Aaron and former national striker Abbu Zahid.
The hosts and Intiaz Khan-coached side played their best passing sequence and organised set pieces from the start.
Despite pressure and several attempts from striker David Ali, the USA fought hard but they were denied by daring Alam.
Fiji broke the deadlock after a through pass from midfield and Captain William Valentine found Mohammed Shazil Ali in the right spot the lanky man took a powerful shot which was pushed away by Afsqat but he ran back and chipped it over in the 12th minute.
The second half of the match remained goalless despite Fiji introducing Zibraaz Sahib, Mohammed Zaid and Hussaini Khan in the early second stanza.
In the 72nd minute, Referee Mohammed Altaf flashed yellow cards to Fiji's Valentine and Mosese Balenagaga for foul play which awarded USA a free kick but Shahrukh Ali kicked it over the crossbar.
Tebara Halal Meats sponsored Fiji will face New Zealand in their next match at 7.45pm tomorrow.
Fiji: Alzaar Alam (GK), Mosese Baleinagaga, Emosi Navaba, Zain Ali, Aaron Edward, William Valentine (C), Afraz Ali, Ato Yankson, Mohammed Shazil Ali, Abbu Zahid, Zainal Ali
By Romeka Romena