Editorial comment | Where are we headed?

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The Digicel Bula Boys at the Fiji Football Academy in Ba. Picture: REINAL CHAND

It is tough trying to come to terms with our drop in ranking on the Pacific soccer table. Fans yearned for some beautiful moments in what is supposed to be a beautiful game.

They dreamed of gold at the Pacific Games soccer competition. In fact it sounded as if we were going to come off with great things.

The hype was there. We seemed to have a side that could do a lot of damage at the event in Honiara in the Solomon Islands.

We had the makings of a credible challenge to the field of top teams there. After that 10-0 drubbing of the Northern Marianas who aren’t even on the FIFA world rankings, there was hope for big things. Fiji drew 0-0 with Tahiti.

Then we hit a brickwall and went down 0-2 to the Solomons in the semi-finals at the Lawson Tama Grounds in Honiara, paving the way for them to enter the finals.

Head coach Rob Sherman, despite the loss, insisted Fiji dominated many areas of the game. The Bula Boys, he said, were the better team, but were “just unable to perfect our finishes”.

“We came into this game confident of making the finals, but unfortunately we couldn’t come out with a favourable result.”

He gave credit to the Solomons for giving Fiji a tough match in the semis, which he said taught them lessons. Fiji, he said, would need to work on its finishing.

“But right now we’re building for next year, and this tournament has developed the players a lot,” he said.

Now that’s well and good. We are keen to see development. It is unfortunate that the governing body has not really stressed the need for development over the years.

The fact that we are still talking about developing a team now, and using the Pacific Games to probably provide our players exposure speaks highly of the level of thinking within some quarters of the Fiji FA.

That is a sad reflection of our game, and a very poor show of how much effort was put into preparing our team over the past four years for this Pacific Games.

The fact that we sit on 170 on FIFA’s world rankings as at October 26, 2023 is demoralising.

It is a very poor reflection of our game, and all those involved in its development programs. Our neighbours Australia are currently sitting on number 27 on the rankings.

New Zealand are on 103, the Solomon Islands are on 131, New Caledonia are on 162, Tahiti are on 163, Papua New Guinea are on 165 and Vanuatu are on 168.

Sad, just sad! We just have to take some consolation in the revelation by coach Sherman that he hopes to prepare the national side for the 2025 qualifiers.

That means we hopefully should see some changes in 2024. The state we are in certainly isn’t the fault of the players!

The question though is do we have the will to make that change? Somethings have to change, for the betterment of our game.

Soccer afterall belongs to the people! People make the sport popular. The fans make it marketable, and a money spinner.

The onus is on the powers that be at Fiji FA to do something about getting our game out of the depressing state it is in right now!

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