DEFENDING champions of the Youth Oceania Cup, Fiji needs to lift their performance if they want to retain the title this Friday.
This was after the side finished third in the Lightening Carnival of the tournament yesterday at the Suva Grammar School grounds.
Development officer for Asia Pacific Ben Drew said Nauru beat Tonga in the final of the carnival.
He said he was impressed by all the four teams which participated including the combined Fiji and Vanuatu side.
"All the teams were really good in the round-robin matches today (yesterday)," he said.
"We saw some very close games and none of the games were blow-outs but the Nauru team is stronger compared to last year."
Drew said the weather could play a huge role in Fiji's title defence and added they were hoping for clear skies and sunshine for the three-day tournament.
"The Fijian flair is affected a bit in the rain but with some sunshine and hard ground, then you will see the Fijians running and playing to the best of their abilities.
"But Fiji will have to improve because a strong challenge will come from Nauru for the title."
Competition will be played at the Suva Grammar School grounds from today until Friday.