Caption: Champions… The Vodafone Fiji Under 20 side in celebration mood after booking their place in the 2015 FIFA U20 World Cup. Photo: ANUSHIL KUMAR. For more photos, click here:- https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.672585062778929.1073742024.131483256889115&type=3
By ANUSHIL KUMAR
History has been created in Fiji Football’s calendar as the national under-20 side has qualified for 2015 FIFA under 20 World Cup after 76 years.
This was after the boys in white defeated Solomon Islands 2-1 in a nail-biting decisive fixture at ANZ Stadium in Suva last night, May 31, sending the Vanuatu side packing as the final result did not favour them.
The match started on a high as Solomons broke the hearts of the mighty home fans early in the match as striker Atkin Kaua neatly finished a set-up by Joachim Kairi in the 9th minute giving the visitors an early 1-0 lead.
However, the Vodafone sponsored Fiji under-20’s did not lose hope as Nickel Chand equalised in the 26th after a shot a deflected by the goalkeeper Phillip Mango, giving the fans something to cheer for.
Praneel Naidu doubled Fiji’s advantage in the 28th minute with a stunning free-kick that landed directly into the net as Fijian fans came into frenzy.
Fiji enjoyed a 2-1 lead at the breather as the score remained firm till the final whistle after 96 minutes.
Speaking to The Jet,Vodafone Fiji coach Ravinesh Kumar burst out into tears as was congratulated by Fiji FA officials giving him the much needed compliments.
“I am lost for words because there’s a lot to say for the boys as they have done a marvelous job tonight (last night, May 31),” an emotional Kumar said.
“I would like to thank the God for all his blessings upon the team and it was all his will to delay the celebrations from Thursday to Saturday.”
“I told my boys at the break that we are just 45 minutes away from reaching the World Cup and so my boys sticked to the game-plan and did what everyone expected from them.” he added.
Fiji FA president Rajesh Patel was really proud of a milestone achievement by his youngsters.
“This is certainly a historic moment for all of us and as a President of Fiji Football, I just can not express how proud I am tonight,” Mr Patel said.
“To thank our boys, Fiji FA will give a cash sum of $50 000 for the boys who did wonders,” Mr Patel announced.