23 Mar 2019

Sport: Fiji, Solomon Islands football teams chase overseas scalps

12:25 pm on 23 March 2019

Fiji and Solomon Islands are looking to make it back to back wins in the FIFA international window this weekend.

A Bula Boys squad bolstered by the return of star striker Roy Krishna will host Mauritus in Lautoka on Sunday, fresh from a 3-0 win over New Caledonia.

The African side, who sit 13 places higher in the FIFA world rankings, also defeated Les Cagous 3-1 on Thursday and Fiji coach Christophe Gamel said it's good to face a different style of play from what they are used to.

"It's important that we see a different kind of soccer all over the world to compare ourselves and to see what has to be done for the future..but it's anyway a good game for us too in preparation for the Pacific Games," he said.

Roy Krishna heads the ball during their 2-0 defeat to New Zealand in Lautoka.

Roy Krishna returns for Fiji this weekend. Photo: OFC Media

Solomon Islands face a tricky away clash against a Chinese Taipei team ranked 24 places above them in the world.

Bonitos coach Moses Toata said they still have plenty to improve on following their 3-1 home win over Vanuatu during the week.

"If you look at the composition of my team it's a very attacking team, I would say, so we have to really work on our defensive side. We score one goal and the same minute we concede one goal - for me that's a defensive blunder and we have to really work hard on this playing against a different side like Taiwan, who are part of a much higher (ranked) confederation."

Solomon Warriors coach Moses Toata.

Moses Toata. Photo: OFC via Phototek

Meanwhile Fiji and Solomon Islands have indicated their support for a proposal to increase the 2022 Football World Cup from 32 to 48 teams.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino confirmed his desire earlier this month to fast-track the expansion of football's showpiece event by four years, which would ensure a guaranteed qualifying berth for Oceania.

Solomon Islands finished runners up in Oceania qualifying for the 2018 World Cup and coach Moses Toata said direct entry would make the World Cup dream seem more attainable.

"I'm looking forward to that already and having in mind the fact that we now have the chance to maybe play in the World Cup it's a great opportunity for Oceania and football in this region and for Solomon Islands we are always looking forward to one day getting into the World Cup," he said.

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Photo: Solomon Islands Football Federation

Fiji coach Christophe Gamel agrees it would be a great opportunity for football in Oceania but admits his team still has a way to go yet.

"Don't forget that we are number six in Oceania, we are not the first one, so step by step, working hard, education, discipline and I hope we will develop the Vodafone Premier League to raise as a semi professional (tournament) because if I don't have a strong championship it will be difficult (for players) to step up for the national team," Gamel said.

Fiji football coach Christophe Gamel.

Fiji football coach Christophe Gamel. Photo: Fiji FA