June 07, 2017
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Krishna equalizer saves Fiji against NCL

Wonder-boy Roy Krishna came off the bench and headed in the equalizer as Fiji came from behind to hold New Caledonia 2-2 in their World Cup Stage 3 Qualifier at Churchill Park in Lautoka today.

Coach Christophe Gamel opted to keep Krishna on the bench and start Saula Waqa and Setareki Hughes upfront.

Suva goalkeeper Tevita Koroi got his second international cap and started ahead of Simione Tamanisau while Benaminio Mateinaqara did not make it into the match day squad.

The visitors opened their account through Mone Wamowe in the 12th minute after the Fiji defence failed to make a clearance on time.

New Caledonia doubled its lead in the 24th minute as Wamowe headed the ball past the Fiji defence from a deep cross.

Gamel made a double substitution in the 28th minute and pulled out brothers Epeli Saukuru and Iosefo Verevou. The pair was replaced by Dave Radrigai and Waisake Tabucava.

Lanky striker Waqa pulled one back for Fiji in injury time after connecting with a well-timed header as New Caledonia led 2-1 at the break.

A suspected hand fracture to striker Setareki Hughes early in the second half saw him getting replaced by Krishna and the Wellington Phoenix marksman made his presence felt on the field after heading in the equalizer from a Amani Makoe free-kick in the 54th minute.

Krishna’s attacking prowess allowed the Fijians to create more scoring chances but some brilliant goalkeeping by 19-year-old Mickael Ulile denied them from netting any further goals.

New Caledonia was reduced to ten players in the 70th minute after Emile Bearune was sent off following his second booking of the match.

Christopher Wasasala, Krishna, Waqa and Laisenia Raura went close to scoring in the last ten minutes but saves by the keeper, moments of hesitation in front of goal and poor last minute-touches killed their chances.

Both teams now travel to New Caledonia for their second match at Stade Numa Daly in Noumea on Sunday.

The teams:

Vodafone Fiji- Tevita Koroi, Kolinio Sivoki, Remueru Tekiate, Samuela Kautoga, Laisenia Raura, Epeli Saukuru (Waisake Tabucava), Amani Makoe (C) , Iosefo Verevou (Dave Radrigai), Christopher Wasasala Saula Waqa, Setareki Hughes (Roy Krishna).

New Caledonia- Mickael Ulile, Pierre Kauma, Jeremie Dokunengo, Geordy Gony, Joel Wakanumune (C), Emile Bearune, Shene Welepane, Mone Wamowe, Richard Sele, Joseph Athale, Roy Kayara.

By Reginald Chandar


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