Soccer journey

Fred Wesley | Thursday, June 8, 2017
THE national soccer side maintained form yesterday, coming from behind to hold New Caledonia to a 2-2 draw at Churchill Park in Lautoka.

It comes in the wake of our 1-0 victory over the Solomons late last month at the same venue.

Clearly, coach Christophe Gamel and his team are attracting attention on the home front.

Fiji had trailed the visitors 0-2 until the 47th minute when Saula Waqa nodded in the ball for our opener in the World Cup qualifier.

New Caledonia led 2-1 at half-time.

With our backs to the wall, exciting striker Roy Krishna was unleashed in the 50th minute. He went in, settled down, and powered in our equaliser in the 54th minute.

Krishna appeared to ignite more enthusiasm and passion into the game when he ran on.

As we await the return clash against the visitors who sit on 162 on the FIFA world rankings, on Sunday in New Caledonia, expectations are pretty high.

Fiji is ranked 181 in the June 1 ranking. The Solomons are on 180, and another Pacific neigbhour, Vanuatu sits on 179.

The win adds a feather to Gamel's cap, consolidating his strength as a coach and maintaining attention among fans.

International soccer, it seems is meeting positive feedback. And the form of the national side on top of Gamel's passion and enthusiasm are positively rubbing off on the fans.

Gamel has made no bones about his aim to strengthen our game, and get away from the traditional kick and chase affairs of old.

He has added structure and an appreciation of individual responsibility on the field among his players.

In the long term, there is hope that this awakening so to speak, will encourage the birth of a new brand of soccer, one that we can all be proud of.

Our early games are strong indications of the amount of work already put in by the team.

The results are positive reflections indeed.

The challenge now for the players is to believe in themselves, listen to their coach, and stick to the game-plan.

New Caledonia will be tough in the return clash.

We must be prepared for an all-out assault.

We have said this before, whether Gamel becomes a saviour for Fiji soccer or not, is besides the point.

He has shown us that he is passionate about soccer.

Now aside from the better structure we see on the field, that is winning fans over, there is excitement brewing about our form now.

Surely that can only be good for Fiji soccer.

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