Fiji Time: 6:52 PM on Monday 27 March

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Positive vibes in soccer

Fred Wesley
Monday, March 27, 2017

IT certainly wasn't a good result for Fiji when the international against New Zealand ended at the new Churchill Park in Lautoka on Saturday.

Defensive blunders proved costly for us, paving the way for the Kiwis to power through to a 2-0 win under overcast skies.

On paper, we succumbed again. It wasn't a good start to our FIFA 2018 World Cup Oceania stage three Group A qualifiers. It wasn't a result fans would have been happy with.

Not many fans would have cared that defensively we actually came off with some form of structure. On attack, national coach Christophe Gamel should be commended for Saturday's effort.

There were many positives from Saturday's game that should be worthy of praise.

How can we even ignore the fact that we went into the game without so much as some exposure against top sides internationally.

We did not have the luxury of top games to polish set pieces and test our defensive and attacking shapes.

We did not have the luxury of being able to test combinations. They do matter you know!

Perhaps that is one reason we probably can look forward to the return game against New Zealand. Gamel has had an opportunity to test his team, even though he would have preferred to have had it prior to Saturday's clash though.

What is important is that we head into the return clash having tested ourselves against a top outfit.

Now that is why Gamel and the national team deserve some respect.

A loss isn't easy to accept though, and that's why Gamel must pull out all stops to put in place measures and a structure that can be effective.

The message was loud and clear though. The fans want such internationals. They want to see the national side in action more often.

And if the Fiji FA wants proof of that, they just had to look around the field.

The national side had the backing of about 7000 fans.

All Whites captain Christopher Wood made no mistakes from a penalty on the 48th minute of the game.

But the clincher came just seven minutes later when national goalkeeper Beniamino Mateinaqara came off with an embarrassment that will stay with him for the rest of his life, to allow the All Whites to double the score. Kolinio Sivoki's back pass was not cleared by Mateinaqara deep inside Fiji's defensive zone.

It allowed Marcos Rojas to slide in, win possession and push the ball into an empty goalmouth.

It was good to see skipper Roy Krishna come off with impressive moments on attack.

The major positive though would have to be the overall attempt to keep a sound shape in both attack and defence. Gamel needs our support to churn out a better effort moving forward.

There are good vibes out there.

The onus is also on the governing Fiji FA to put in place a program that exposes our top players to top competitions moving forward.

Otherwise we will continue to rue our chances, and wish we could have done better. Go Fiji, go.

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