OFC Nations: Fiji
Fiji is next up in Football In Oceania’s presentation of the nations in the OFC.
Fiji were one of the founding members of the OFC and have long been regarded as one of the big boys in Oceania. The potential have never quite been realised, but recent youth results brings hope.
FIJI FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION QUICK FACTS:
- FA ESTABLISHED: 1938
- OFC/FIFA MEMBER: 1966/1964
- PRESIDENT: Rajesh Patel
- NATIONAL STADIUM: Various stadiums around the country
- MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM MANAGER: Christophe Gamel
- WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM MANAGER: Susan Wise
- SENIOR TOP DIVISIONS: Vodafone Premier League (Men), Vodafone Senior Women’s League (Women)
Football came to Fiji early and the Fiji FA was established as early as 1938. The national team played their first international in 1951, losing 4-6 to New Zealand. Fiji were one of the founding members of the Oceania Football Confederation in 1966 and have been considered a major force on the Oceania stage.
Despite being early birds to the “world game” Fiji have never placed higher than third in the OFC Nations Cup, always behind New Zealand and Australia and more often than not also behind Tahiti and New Caledonia. In recent years, the feeling has been that the Fijian’s senior men’s team have taken a few steps backwards, but from the younger ranks there comes hope.
The last few years have proven good at the youth stages with the Under-20 team winning the 2014 OFC U-20 Nations Cup on home soil, although New Zealand did not enter as they were due to host the upcoming U-20 World Cup which this tournament served as a qualifier for. The U-23 team won the 2015 Olympic Qualifying Tournament and gave Fiji their Olympic football debut at the Rio Olympics last year.
The Olympic tournament was unfortunately no success as the young Bula Boys were placed in an unforgiving group with South Korea, Mexico and runners-up Germany. The Fijians lost 0-8 to South Korea, 1-5 to Mexico and a devastating 10-0 to Germany. Fijian wonder boy, Wellington Phoenix’s Roy Krishna, scored Fiji’s only goal in the tournament.
Embed from Getty Images
Roy Krishna celebrates scoring Fiji’s only goal at the Olympic Games
So even though they haven’t had the best of success with the senior squad, the young players’ recent success bodes well for Fiji in the years to come. They are still in the running for a spot at Russia 2018, and Qatar 2022 could suit them even better. Both might be reachable with a bit of luck.