Polynesian aspirants build for Qualifiers

American Samoa and Tonga will make a rare trip to Melanesia later this month when they prepare for upcoming Oceania qualifiers for 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ by playing internationals in Fiji.

Fiji will firstly host Tonga on 19 August at Govind Park in Ba, before playing American Samoa at Prince Charles Park in Nadi on 27 August.

The two visitors will compete when Oceania FIFA World Cup qualifying commences on 31 August in Tonga. One spot will be up for grabs in Stage 2 over the course of the five-day tournament, which also features Cook Islands and Samoa.

Fiji coach Carlos Buzzetti has named a strong 23-man squad for the matches including Wellington Phoenix striker Roy Krishna, powerful attacker Osea Vakatalesau and U-20 captain Jale Dreloa.

It has been a massive year already for Fiji who competed in their maiden FIFA U-20 World Cup during June, while last month they qualified for a maiden Men’s Olympic Football Tournament.

Fiji FA National Team Director Taranesh Reddy said Fiji are now concentrating more on international matches to improve their ranking, following a lengthy hiatus for the senior national team.

“We had lot of commitments during the year and after the completion of the Pacific Games we are now concentrating on our senior national team and the start is playing two matches against American Samoa and Tonga,” he said.

And Reddy says Fiji are intent on lining up more international matches before next year’s OFC Nations Cup which doubles as Stage 2 qualifiers for Russia 2018, with the winner to also feature in the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017.

“We have plans for some more tours before the Nations Cup which will be held in May and June 2016. So we have lined up three more tours in preparation for the senior men’s OFC Nations Cup.

“We are also in the process of arranging to play more international matches in Asian countries as the FIFA window opens next month, said Reddy.