Fiji national football team
The Fiji national football team is Fiji's national men's team and is controlled by the governing body of football in Fiji, the Fiji Football Association. The team plays most of their home games at the ANZ National Stadium in Suva.
|Association||Fiji Football Association|
|Head coach||Christophe Gamel|
|Most caps||Esala Masi (52)|
|Top scorer||Esala Masi (33)|
|Home stadium||ANZ National Stadium|
|Current||165 4 (4 April 2019)|
|Highest||94 (July 1994)|
|Lowest||199 (July 2015)|
|Current||148 2 (27 March 2019)|
|Highest||77 (14 September 1991)|
|Lowest||162 (11 June 2017)|
| Fiji 4–6 New Zealand |
(Suva, Fiji; 7 October 1951)
| Fiji 24–0 Kiribati |
(Suva, Fiji; 24 August 1979)
| New Zealand 13–0 Fiji |
(Auckland, New Zealand; 16 August 1981)
|OFC Nations Cup|
|Appearances||7 (first in 1973)|
|Best result||Third place, 1998 and 2008|
|1991 Port Moresby||Team|
Fiji first participated in FIFA World Cup qualification in 1982; since 1990 Fiji have attempted to qualify for each World Cup without success. Their best result was a final round appearance in 2010. The national team also represents Fiji at the OFC Nations Cup having appeared in eight out of ten previous tournaments. Fiji's best result is a third-place finish at the 1998 and 2008 editions. They have won the Melanesia Cup five times and competed in the Pacific Games from 1963 until 2015 when the competition became an under-23 tournament.
Fiji's first international football game was against a New Zealand side that was touring Oceania and had played four games against New Caledonia. The international, which took place on 7 October 1951, saw New Zealand getting the win 6–4. Jock Newall got a hat-trick for New Zealand. New Zealand returned the following year, with Fiji losing all three games, including a 9–0 drubbing in the second match.
After being absent from the international game for eleven years, the Fiji Football Association joined FIFA in 1963. That same year, the national team entered the first edition of the South Pacific Games, held in Fiji. In that tournament, the country appeared in its first gold medal match after defeating Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, but lost the match to New Caledonia 8–2. Marc-Kanyan Case scored four goals for the opposition and Fiji was relegated to silver.
After missing 1966, the team's next tournament appearance was in the 1969 Games held in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. They finished in fourth place out of six teams after losing to Papua New Guinea in the bronze medal playoff. Two years later, Fiji finished at the bottom of Group two with losses against New Caledonia and New Hebrides. They would, however, defeat the Cook Islands in the fifth place play-off.
World Cup qualifying debut and Oceania upsets (1973–1991)Edit
As a member of the Oceania Football Confederation, Fiji played in the first edition of the OFC Nations Cup held in New Zealand in 1973. They did not win a match in the four games they played during the tournament. Competing at the 1975 South Pacific Games the national team, under coach Sashi Mahendra Singh, made the semi-finals of the competition where they lost to Tahiti. In the third-place playoff, they lost to the Solomon Islands by a goal.
After John Lal became the new coach for Fiji in 1977, his first match as coach was an unofficial game against Taiwan which ended in a two-all draw before taking on Australia who played Taiwan because of the soccer ban in the country. On 19 March 1977, they took on Australia at Buckhurst Park. Seven national players from Ba F.C. were unavailable due to a planned tour of New Zealand. After holding off the Australians for the first forty-five minutes, Jimmy Okete (who was making his debut) scored the only goal of the game. This was a shock to the locals since the team struggled in the two tours to Australia in 1961 and 1968 against the state teams.
Under the orders of new coach, Moti Musadilal, they played some pre-tournament friendlies against New Zealand conceding nine goals in the two games before competing at the 1979 South Pacific Games in Suva. After getting a nil all draw against Papua New Guinea, they scored their biggest win against Kiribati winning by twenty-four goals. After defeating Wallis and Futuna in the quarter-finals and Solomon Islands in the semis, they made it to their second Pacific Games final against Tahiti. In front of over twenty thousand people, Fiji came up short again with Errol Bennett scoring a double to give Tahiti the gold medal.
Fiji's next tournament was the 1980 OFC Nations Cup where they were grouped with New Zealand, Solomon Islands and Tahiti. After defeating the Solomon Islands in the opening game, they were expected to lose against New Zealand who were the favourites to win the group. On 27 February 1980, they became the first Fijian team to defeat a New Zealand team with Dewan Chand and Meli Vuilabasa both scoring two goals in the victory. Fiji did not make it to the final. They lost first to Tahiti 6–3, and then lost the third-place playoff to New Caledonia 2–1, in what was the last Oceania Cup for sixteen years.
The following year saw a new coach with former New Zealand coach Wally Hughes leading the team into their first World Cup qualifiers. After opening with a four-goal defeat against New Zealand, they drew with Indonesia nil-all, before defeating Chinese Taipei 2–1 to be in third place with three points. For Fiji that momentum was short-lived. They finished at the bottom of the group after conceding twenty-three goals in the final two games against Australia and New Zealand. Hughes resigned after the Australian game stating, "I wouldn't wish on any coach what I have been through," suggesting that bribery was involved in the defeat to Australia.
After two years absence from international football, the national team, under Rudi Gutendorf, competed at the 1983 South Pacific Games in Samoa. After finishing top of the group that featured New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, they defeated Papua New Guinea 2–0 in the quarter-finals before knocking off New Caledonia in the semi-final. In the final, they lost to Tahiti by a single goal which was contested by the players who attacked the referee and linesmen. Another similar incident in a friendly against New Zealand happened the following year. This led to a one-year ban of international matches being held at Fiji.
Fiji's next tournament was the 1988 Melanesia Cup held in the Solomon Islands. The national team won the final against the Solomon Islands 3–1 to claim their first title. Later in that year, they competed in the first round of the 1990 FIFA World Cup qualification against Australia, with the motivation of five hundred Fijian dollars bonus for each player if they won. In front of six thousand people, they defeated Australia 1–0 with Ravuame Madigi scoring the goal to take the lead heading into the second leg. The second leg though saw Australia take out the match by a score of 5–1 in what media called the "Battle of Newcastle". It included an all-in brawl in the last part of the match which saw Charlie Yankos get a broken nose.
After claiming the 1989 Melanesia Cup at home, in the following year they finished in third place behind Vanuatu and New Caledonia. The team headed to Tahiti for the 1991 South Pacific Games where they finished top of the group before defeating Vanuatu in the semi-finals. In the final, they took on the Solomon Islands where Radike Nawalu scored the opening goal of the game in the 29th minute to give Fiji the lead. The game went to penalties with Fiji winning the gold for the first time.
Melanesia powerhouse (1991–2003)Edit
Fiji competed at the 1994 FIFA World Cup qualification in Group B with Vanuatu and New Zealand. After losing to New Zealand in the opening game of qualifying at Christchurch, they headed off to Vanuatu to compete at the 1992 Melanesia Cup.They took the cup for the third time with the difference being one goal over New Caledonia. After a 3–0 win over Vanuatu in Suva, they tied with New Zealand at the same ground. In the final game of the group, they defeated Vanuatu in Port Vila by the same scoreline. That game was a dead rubber as they finished behind New Zealand and were eliminated from contention.
After not qualifying for the 1996 OFC Nations Cup having finished second at the 1994 Melanesia Cup, at the 1995 South Pacific Games in Tahiti Fiji won the bronze medal by defeating Vanuatu in the bronze medal playoff.
Attempting to qualify for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Fiji got a bye into the second round of qualifying where they were paired with New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. The top team qualified for the third round. The nation finished in second place with losses to New Zealand both at home (1–0) and away (5–0) being the critical factors in their elimination. Fiji's next tournament was the 1998 OFC Nations Cup after they qualified by taking out the 1998 Melanesia Cup held in Vanuatu. The only blemish being a one–all draw against the Solomon Islands.
After losing to the hosts (Australia) 3–0 in their first game, they defeated the Cook Islands 3–1 to secure a semi-final spot where they fell to New Zealand by a single goal. This put them into the third-place playoff where they defeated Tahiti for their best result to date at the OFC Nations Cup with a third-place. Esala Masi was the top goalscorer for the tournament with three goals. Fiji qualified for the following edition of the Nations Cup after winning the title at the 2000 Melanesia Cup in Fiji. But later that year, Fiji withdrew because of political unrest in the country, which led to the 2000 Fijian coup d'état.
Fiji's qualification for the 2002 FIFA World Cup started at Coffs Harbour when they were grouped with American Samoa, Australia, Samoa and Tonga in Group one. In the opening game of the group, they defeated American Samoa 13–0 to record their biggest win in a FIFA match. Shailemdra Lal scored five goals; Esala Masi scored four. After defeating Samoa 6–1, they lost to Australia 2–0 to finish in second place and were eliminated from contention. Only the top team from the group qualified through to the second round. They met Australia again at the 2002 OFC Nations Cup in New Zealand. They finished in third place in the group after only winning against New Caledonia followed by an 8–0 loss against Australia. This eliminated Fiji from the semi-finals and saw the sack of Billy Singh ending a seven-year reign in his third stint as coach of the national team.
Fiji claimed the 2003 South Pacific Games gold medal at home. The squad, which consisted mostly of young players, was able to go unbeaten throughout the tournament defeating New Caledonia in the gold medal match. Esala Masi was Fiji's top scorer for Fiji with twelve goals which included the seven in the 12–0 win over Kiribati in the group stage.
Recent times (2004–)Edit
Fiji's qualification for the 2006 FIFA World Cup started in Samoa. They finished in second place in the qualifying group which featured Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and American Samoa. Their only loss was against Vanuatu on the final match-day. This meant that Fiji qualified through to the 2004 OFC Nations Cup. After drawing with Tahiti and getting a win over Vanuatu, their World Cup chance ended when Fiji lost the next three matches and were eliminated at the second stage of qualifying.
Fiji's next tournament was the 2007 South Pacific Games in Samoa, which was also the first round of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. After getting safely through the group, which included Tuvalu, Tahiti, Cook Islands and New Caledonia, they took on Vanuatu for a spot in the semi-finals to qualify for the next round. In the semi-finals, they defeated Vanuatu to advance to the second round of qualifying with a three-goal victory, confirming their spot in the gold medal match. They lost by a single goal to New Caledonia, however, to finish runner-up for the fourth time.
The second round of qualifying got off to a rocky start. Goalkeeper, Simione Tamanisau was refused entry because his father had been linked to the 2006 Fijian coup d'état. The match was moved to the end of the qualifying period with Fiji winning 2–0. During that reschedule, the national team played the rest of their World Cup games. The team finished in third place in the group after getting only one point in their first three games—a three-all draw against New Caledonia. This was a key factor as the later 4–0 loss to the same team ended their hopes for qualifying to the next stage.
Under the guidance of Gurjit Singh, the team competed at the 2011 Pacific Games in New Caledonia. In the group stage, the team qualified for the semi-finals with a game to spare as they would go through with a clean sweep of wins. In the semi-finals, they took the lead against the Solomon Islands in the sixty-ninth minute of play with a goal by Maciu Dunadamu. But goals from Joses Nawo and Henry Fa'arodo, however, gave the Solomon Islands the win and a spot in the gold medal match. Fiji finished in fourth place losing to Tahiti in the bronze medal match 2–1.
Juan Carlos Buzzetti returned to Fiji's top job as he led the team to the 2012 OFC Nations Cup. This was also the second part of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Competing in Group B, they lost the opening game to New Zealand. The only goalscorer of the match was Kiwi player Tommy Smith in the eleventh minute. After a nil-all draw against the Solomon Islands, they got their only goal of the tournament with Maciu Dunadamu opening the scoring against Papua New Guinea in the fifteenth minute. But a late goal from Kema Jack ended the tournament for Fiji with a draw and knocked them out in the group stage.
After not competing in a senior international for three years, the national team had two friendlies against A-League side Wellington Phoenix before entering their under-23 squad for the 2015 Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea. This was also a qualifier for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil. After losing the opening game, they got a draw in the second match with Roy Krishna and Ilimotama Jese each scoring a goal for Fiji. More friendlies took place before the national team headed to Papua New Guinea for the 2016 OFC Nations Cup. This was also the second round of qualification for the 2018 World Cup. With a squad that only had three outside of the National League, Fiji lost the opening game against New Zealand with Krishna getting the only goal in the 3–1 loss. After defeating the Solomon Islands in their second game with a Krishna goal, they needed to defeat Vanuatu in the final group game to have a chance at qualifying to the semis. After almost getting the early lead from Krishna, Fiji fell behind by two goals from Dominique Fred and Fenedy Masauvakalo giving Vanuatu the lead. The second half saw Fiji tie the match at two-all as goals from Samuela Kautoga and Krishna gave the team hope of qualifying. But Fiji was eliminated from the competition as a penalty in the 75th minute by Brian Kaltack gave Vanuatu a spot in the semis by goal difference.
For finishing third place, they qualified through to the third round of qualifying. Fiji was drawn to face New Zealand and New Caledonia in Group A. Before the first game against New Zealand, Frank Farina was replaced by Christophe Gamel in the top job with Gamel stating, "We respect our opponents and we know that they are strong" in his first press conference as manager. Fiji only got a single point from their four games. That point was against New Caledonia at Lautoka with the game ending in a two–all draw.
The first soccer international held in Fiji was held at Albert Park, when New Zealand took on the hosts in 1951. The stadium, the main centre in Fiji during the early 20th century, was also the home of cricket and of the country's first Rugby union test match in 1926.
In modern times, most games hosted by Fiji are held at the ANZ National Stadium, which was built in 1951 and has been renovated twice. The first renovation was in 1978 for the 1979 South Pacific Games held in Suva. A second renovation took place in 2012 sponsored by ANZ Fiji at a cost 17.5 million Fijian dollars in exchange for the stadium's naming rights. The football team has also played games at Lautoka, Ba, Nausori and Labasa.
World Cup recordEdit
|FIFA World Cup record||FIFA World Cup qualification record|
|as Colony of Fiji|
|1930–1970||Did not enter||Did not enter|
|as Dominion of Fiji|
|1974–1978||Did not enter||Did not enter|
|1982||Did not qualify||5th||8||1||3||4||6||35|
|1986||Did not enter||Did not enter|
|1990||Did not qualify||3rd||2||1||0||1||2||5|
|2022||To be determined||To be determined|
Oceania Nations Cup recordEdit
|OFC Nations Cup record|
|1996||Did not qualify|
Pacific Games recordEdit
|South Pacific Games record|
|1966||Did not enter|
|1987||Did not enter|
|2015||See Fiji national under-23 football team|
Results and fixturesEdit
|5 July 2018 Friendly||Malaysia||1–0||Fiji||Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia|
|20:45 (UTC+8)||Syafiq 20'||Report||Stadium: KLFA Stadium|
Referee: Mongkolchai Pechsri (Thailand)
|5 September 2018 Friendly||Fiji||1–1||Solomon Islands||Suva, Fiji|
|18:30 (UTC+12)||Krishna 68' (pen.)||Report||Lea'alafa 22'||Stadium: ANZ Stadium|
Referee: Nick Waldron (New Zealand)
|11 September 2018 Friendly||Singapore||2–0||Fiji||Bishan, Singapore|
|19:30 (UTC+8)||Hariss Harun 11'
Ikhsan Fandi 12'
|Report||Stadium: Bishan Stadium|
Referee: Mongkolchai Pechsri (Thailand)
|18 March 2019 Friendly||Fiji||3–0||New Caledonia||Suva, Fiji|
|Report||Stadium: ANZ Stadium|
Referee: Joel Hopken (Vanuatu)
|24 March 2019 Friendly||Fiji||1–0||Mauritius||Lautoka, Fiji|
||Report||Stadium: Churchill Park|
Referee: Joel Hopken (Vanuatu)
Current technical staffEdit
|Head Coach||Christophe Gamel|
|Assistant Coach||Bal Sanju Reddy|
|Goal Keeper Coach||Xavier Henneuse|
Caps and goals updated as of 25 March 2019 after the game against Mauritius.
|No.||Pos.||Player||Date of birth (age)||Caps||Goals||Club|
|1||GK||Mohammed Alam||8 February 2000||0||0||Nasinu|
|20||GK||Simione Tamanisau||5 June 1982||37||0||Suva|
|22||GK||Beniamino Mateinaqara||19 August 1987||17||0||Lautoka|
|3||DF||Kavaia Rawaqa||20 September 1990||15||0||Lautoka|
|4||DF||Josateki Tamudu||22 June 1991||1||0||Rewa|
|10||DF||Nicholas Prasad||7 December 1995||2||0||SpVgg Bayreuth|
|12||MF||Kishan Sami||13 March 2000||6||0||Ba|
|18||DF||Laisenia Naioko (Captain)||14 October 1990||18||0||Suva|
|19||DF||Peni Tuigulagula||8 March 1999||1||0||Nadi|
|23||DF||Kolinio Sivoki||10 March 1995||17||1||Lautoka|
|2||MF||Meli Codro||18 August 1985||2||0||Suva|
|6||MF||Zibraaz Sahib||9 September 1989||10||0||Lautoka|
|13||MF||Malakai Rakula||16 May 1992||2||0||Ba|
|15||MF||Ame Votoniu||12 August 1985||9||1||Nadi|
|17||MF||Patrick Joseph||3 May 1998||2||0||Nadi|
|21||MF||Marika Rawasoi||26 January 1998||0||0||Tavua|
|24||MF||Dave Radrigai||15 March 1990||18||1||Lautoka|
|5||FW||Rusiate Matarerega||17 January 1993||12||3||Nadi|
|7||FW||Samuela Drudru||30 April 1989||7||2||Lautoka|
|9||FW||Roy Krishna||30 August 1987||35||23||Wellington Phoenix|
|11||FW||Tito Vodowaqa||9 April 1999||1||0||Nadi|
|14||FW||Epeli Saukuru||4 August 1988||13||2||Lautoka|
|16||FW||Ratu Dau||6 May 2000||1||0||Ba|
The following players have also been called up to represent Fiji in the last 12 months:
|Pos.||Player||Date of birth (age)||Caps||Goals||Club||Latest call-up|
|GK||Atunaisa Naucukidi||3 August 1997||0||0||Ba||v. New Caledonia, 18 March 2019 PRE|
|GK||Varinava Telawa||9 March 1998||0||0||Tavua||v. New Caledonia, 18 March 2019 PRE|
|GK||Misiwani Nairube||22 February 1996||2||0||Ba||v. Singapore, 7 September 2018|
|GK||Jovilisi Borisi||31 July 1997||0||0||Rewa||v. Singapore, 7 September 2018|
|GK||Epeli Loaniceva||19 October 1992||2||0||Rewa||v. Philippines, 22 March 2018|
|DF||Waisake Navunigasau||27 June 1988||0||0||Suva||v. New Caledonia, 18 March 2019 PRE|
|DF||Peniame Drova||15 October 1990||4||0||Rewa||v. Singapore, 7 September 2018|
|DF||Remueru Tekiate||7 August 1990||21||0||Suva||v. Singapore, 7 September 2018|
|DF||Scott Wara||22 September 1999||1||0||Stoke City||v. Singapore, 7 September 2018|
|DF||Hussaini Khan||14 April 1994||0||0||Tavua||v. Singapore, 7 September 2018|
|DF||Epeli Lairoti||3 June 1995||3||0||Suva||v. Singapore, 7 September 2018|
|DF||Savenaca Baledrokadroka||20 May 1999||1||0||Nasinu||v. Singapore, 7 September 2018|
|DF||Sairusi Nalewadonu||18 March 1996||0||0||Tavua||v. Singapore, 7 September 2018|
|DF||Ilimotama Jese||16 March 1990||8||0||Ba||v. Malaysia, 7 July 2018|
|DF||Filipe Baravilala||25 November 1994||2||0||Suva||v. Malaysia, 7 July 2018|
|DF||Vilive Naulalevu||11 April 1996||0||0||Tavua||v. Malaysia, 7 July 2018|
|DF||Sakaraia Naisua||9 March 1993||0||0||Ba||v. Philippines, 22 March 2018|
|MF||Joeli Ranitu||14 April 1999||0||0||Ba||v. New Caledonia, 18 March 2019 PRE|
|MF||Narendra Rao||27 June 1995||6||0||Ba||v. Singapore, 7 September 2018|
|MF||Mohammed Khan||22 November 1999||0||0||Rewa||v. Singapore, 7 September 2018|
|MF||Christopher Wasasala||31 December 1994||13||5||Suva||v. Singapore, 7 September 2018|
|MF||Mataiasi Toma||14 June 1997||0||0||Lautoka||v. Singapore, 7 September 2018|
|MF||Antonio Tuivuna||20 March 1995||5||1||Labasa||v. Malaysia, 7 July 2018|
|MF||Ilisoni Tuinawaivuvu||7 July 1993||5||0||Labasa||v. Malaysia, 7 July 2018|
|MF||Mitieli Namuka||19 April 1990||1||0||Rewa||v. Malaysia, 7 July 2018|
|MF||Ratu Nakalevu||7 March 1994||2||0||Ba||v. Philippines, 22 March 2018|
|MF||Ratu Apenisa Anare||12 June 1992||0||0||Suva||v. Philippines, 22 March 2018|
|FW||Iliesa Lino||6 June 1992||0||0||Labasa||v. New Caledonia, 18 March 2019 PRE|
|FW||Joseph Mishra||0||0||Nasinu||v. New Caledonia, 18 March 2019 PRE|
|FW||Paulo Buke||1 January 1996||2||0||Nadroga||v. Singapore, 7 September 2018|
|FW||Abu Zahid Shaheed||14 February 1991||4||1||Ba||v. Singapore, 7 September 2018|
|FW||Saula Waqa||12 October 1995||10||8||Ba||v. Singapore, 7 September 2018|
|FW||Napolioni Qasevakatini||17 March 1993||8||4||Labasa||v. Singapore, 7 September 2018|
|FW||Setareki Hughes||8 June 1995||16||0||Rewa||v. Philippines, 22 March 2018|
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