30 Sep 2019

Sport: Olympic Qualifier semi-final match-ups confirmed

1:07 pm on 30 September 2019

Favourites New Zealand will play defending champions Fiji in the semi-finals of the OFC Men's Olympic Football Qualifiers in Lautoka after the host team was tipped over by Vanuatu on the weekend's last day of group play.

Vanuatu's Joseph Iaruel collides with Fiji's Tito Vodowaqa

Vanuatu's Joseph Iaruel collides with Fiji's Tito Vodowaqa Photo: OFC via phototek / Shane Wenzlick

Vanuatu beat Fiji 1-0, courtesy of a Claude Aru goal just on half-time, to take out Group B honours.

However, Fiji coach Marika Rodu told OFC TV the loss wasn't the end of the world.

"We created some good scoring opportunities in the first half but then unfortunately we took a silly goal just [because] of a lack of communication and not reading the long ball," he said.

"We are not out of the tournament yet. We need to remain positive and look forward, ahead to the game against New Zealand."

Even before the qualifiers began, Rodu pointed to New Zealand as being the biggest threat to Fiji's efforts to make their second Olympic Games.

He maintained they would be a huge challenge on Wednesday.

"They have a lot of weaponry amongst them, they can play wide, they can play central, they can go behind, they can take shots from outside the back, they can change the rhythm, they can set the pace," Rodu said.

"I think it's going to be difficult to counter all of them, but we will try and prioritise what we want to defend but will look for opportunities to attack as well."

The Fiji U23 Coach said the Solomon Islands 4-2 loss to New Zealand actually revealed some promising information.

"Solomons showed that their defence can be broken. I think that's a matter we want to look at," he said.

Solomon Islands will meet Vanuatu in the other semi-final.

Vanuatu coach Etienne Mermer said his side now had momentum heading into the semi-finals.

"Once we start get wins we need to continue to win and continue to walk on and try our best to lead this pool," he said.

"We've done it, so we won the game and we look forward for the semis."

Mermer said the Solomons was a good team.

"We know Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, they have a similar style of play."