4 Jun 2015

Fiji rocks world football

6:40 pm on 4 June 2015

Fiji have caused a massive upset at the FIFA under-20 football World Cup with a 3-0 win over Honduras in Christchurch.

The result arguably doing more for the fortunes of Oceania football than any other team from the collection of 11 South Pacific nations.

The Oceania Football Confederation is FIFA's smallest by population and has nine of their nations in the bottom 25 of FIFA's rankings.

Fiji were trounced 8-1 by world football heavyweights Germany in their opening game in Christchurch on Monday but Frank Farina's side looked far from the team that had appeared pleased to have just scored their first goal at a World Cup.

First-half goals within five minutes of each other from Ratu Waranaivalu and Saula Waqa had given the Fijians a surprise 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.

Saula Waqa scores Fiji's 2nd goal against Honduras in Christchurch.

Saula Waqa scores Fiji's 2nd goal against Honduras in Christchurch. Photo: FIFA

They extended their lead with a third right on the brink of half time when an Atonio Tuivuna header from a corner was deflected past Cristian Hernandez to give the Fijians a surprising 3-0 lead at the break.

Honduras, who had beaten Uzbekistan 4-3 in their opening encounter, did everything but score in the second half, and were denied several times by the post and some superb saves from close range by Misiwani Nairube.

Australia went to two World Cup finals as Oceania champions before they joined the Asian Football Confederation in 2006 while New Zealand have also been to two World Cups.

While Oceania club champions Auckland City have performed credibly at Club World Cups, finishing third last year, no national side from the far-flung region have truly made their mark on world football.

With a population of just 900,000 Fiji are more well known for the exploits of their rugby sevens side and are appearing in their first FIFA tournament of any kind.

Even then, their qualification was made easier because Oceania's top-ranked nation New Zealand are the tournament hosts.