Fiji Time: 9:08 AM on Thursday 8 October

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Arin Kumar
Sunday, June 01, 2014

THE Vodafone Fiji under-20 side became the first team to qualify for a soccer World Cup with a 2-1 victory over the Solomon Islands yesterday.

Goals from Nickel Chand and Praneel Naidu allowed Fiji to come from 0-1 down to clinch the OFC U20 Championships at the ANZ Stadium in Suva.

The victory secures a spot for Fiji at the 2015 FIFA U20 World Cup which will be held in New Zealand.

Team coach Ravinesh Kumar thanked the players and their parents for the hard work before and during the tournament.

"A grand game played by both teams and it was God's will to delay our celebration from Thursday to Saturday but it was worth the wait," he said.

"We told the players to remain focused and not allow the Solomon Islands to score and we did just that and now we are through to the World Cup.

"This is a gift to all Fijians and the win is dedicated to all Fijians because it's Fiji's name that would be at the World Cup for the first time."

Team captain Jale Dreloa commended his players for their efforts on the field.

"They did what they were told and we are really happy that we finally got to win," he said.

Fiji Football Association president Rajesh Patel said the players would be rewarded for their victory.

"Firstly, they will get to share $50,000 and also we are lining up overseas tours for them to the Middle East, United States and the Caribbean," he said.

Vodafone Fiji's Managing Director Aslam Khan also praised the team on their victory.

"This is a proud day for Fiji and for soccer in the country," he said.

"We have finally made it to the World Cup soccer stage - to be amongst the top 24 nations out of the 201 soccer playing nations in the world is no mean feat."

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