FIJI soccer coach Juan Carlos Buzzetti said they did not have any quality replacement for Malakai Tiwa in the national side that left for the Solomon Islands this morning.
The Ba midfielder copped injuries during the Vodafone Fiji FACT semi-final match against Lautoka and was unable to recover on time, forcing him out of the national team that will feature in the 2012 Oceania Nations Cup Championship.
Buzzetti said Tiwas exclusion was a big blow to the side led by Lautoka goalkeeper Simione Tamanisau.
He said there was no midfielder in the country, who was as good as Tiwa and therefore no suitable replacement for the Men in Blacks top marksman.
The Uruguayan mentor said they had to do with whatever players they had in the squad for the second round of the OFC qualification tournament for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Its a huge loss for the team. Tiwa is a top quality player and an excellent playmaker. He is also a good leader on the field, Buzzetti said.
We had two good centres in Tiwa and Esava Naqeleca, whom we lost earlier. But we need to adjust with whatever players we have and need to do the job required of us. Buzzetti retained the core of the team (the Fiji under-23) that played in the OFC Mens Olympic Qualifiers.
Some notable players named in the national team include New Zealand-based Roy Krishna alongside Papua New Guinea-based Maciu Dunadamu, Pita Bolaitoga, Taniela Waqa and Ilaitia Tuilau.
Lautoka striker Peni Finau has been named the vice-captain and will be assisting his fellow player Tamanisau in the tournament.
Buzzetti said the team had a good mixture of experienced and young players.
Its a well balanced team ... I have coached almost all of them. When I was here (in Fiji) in 2009, most of these players were around 22 years and they are now 26 or 27, he said.
They are more mature now but I had only five months to monitor them and this is not enough. I needed at least a year because there are many other players that would be good enough (to be in the team).
But regardless of all this, we just need to adjust and try our best to produce the results.
Fiji faces New Zealand in its first match this Saturday at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara.
Team - Simione Tamanisau (Goal Keeper) Lautoka (Captain), Avinesh Waran Suwamy (Utility) Ba, Posiano Kalisito (Defender) Rewa, Samuela Vula (Defender) Suva, Taniela Waqa (Defender) Hekari-PNG, Alvin Singh (Utility) Ba, Pita Bolaitoga (Midfield) Hekari-PNG, Osea Vakatalesau (Striker) Ba, Alvin Avinesh (Midfield) Lautoka, Roy Krishna (Striker) Waitakere-NZ, Remeuru Tekiata (Defender) Ba, Ilaitia Tuilau (Defender) Hekari-PNG, Maciu Dunadamu (Striker) Hekari -PNG, Samuela Kautoga (Defender) Amicale-Vanuatu, Apisai Smith (Utility) Rewa, Archie Watkins (Striker) Nadroga, Peni Finau (Defender) Lautoka (Vice Captain), Ilisoni Logaivau (Midfield) Rewa, Misaele Draunibaka (Midfield) Rewa, Beniaminio Mateinaqara (Goal Keeper) Nadi. Officials - Tarunesh Reddy- National team director/Fiji FA vice president, Juan Carlos Buzzetti- National Football Director /National Coach, Imdad Ali - National Senior Coach, Kamal Suwmay- Assistant National Senior Coach, Usenio Logaivau - Team Manager, Varoon Karan - Physio