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Fiji U19 to face American Samoa in Oceania opener

Zanzeer Singh
Monday, May 12, 2014

THE Ravinesh Kumar coached Fiji under-19 team will face American Samoa in the opening match of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) U19 Championship in Suva this month.

The Fiji team returned from a 17-day tour of New Zealand last Friday.

Fiji recorded four wins against club teams before going down to the Junior All Whites in two friendly internationals.

Kumar said this was the first time for a youth team to tour New Zealand for preparation for the regional playoffs.

"The matches against the Junior All Whites were a learning experience for the players," he said.

"They are a professional outfit with players plying their trade in Australia and Europe. You cannot judge our team's performance by the score line. The goals they scored were from set piece play, like free kicks, corner kicks and penalties.

"They exposed our weaknesses that we will now work on. The match schedule for the playoffs look good. We face American Samoa first, a team that we don't know much about.

"However we will not underestimate any team. We will take each game as they come. The stakes are high with the winner securing a spot in the FIFA U20 World Cup in New Zealand next year."

The OFC U19 Championship will be held at ANZ Stadium from May 23-31.

The tournament will be played on a round-robin format with the team with the most points after the final day's action becoming just the second non-Australian or non-New Zealand nation to qualify for the FIFA event at this level, the first being Tahiti in 2009.

New Zealand has secured automatic entry to the FIFA U20 World Cup as hosts.

Match schedule:

May 23: American Samoa-Fiji, Vanuatu-New Caledonia, Solomon Islands-Papua New Guinea; May 25: Solomon Islands-Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea-American Samoa, Fiji-New Caledonia; May 27 Fiji-Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia-Solomon Islands, American Samoa-Vanuatu; May 29 Solomon Islands-American Samoa, Vanuatu-Fiji, Papua New Guinea-New Caledonia; May 31: New Caledonia-American Samoa, Papua New Guinea-Vanuatu, Fiji-Solomon Islands.

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