NATIONAL soccer coach Carlos Buzzetti expressed disappointed as Fiji dropped two crucial points following its 3-all draw in the Oceania world cup qualifier against New Caledonia in Ba yesterday.
Fiji's strikers Osea Vakatalesau, Roy Krishna and Maciu Dunadamu failed to capitalise on a host of easy scoring opportunities allowing the visitors to snatch the equaliser at the death.
The injury prone Fiji side held a 2-0 cushion at the break and appeared on course for an easy victory before the New Caledonians took advantage of some lethargic defence to tie the encounter.
New Caledonian midfielder Marius Bako had an outstanding game and created the equaliser in the 89th minute after Fiji led 3-2 in the dying stages.
The draw has pegged back Fiji's chances of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Buzzetti said Fiji should have killed the game in the second spell but allowed the opposition to score soft goals.
"I'm disappointed with the result," Buzzetti said.
"But you don't concede a goal in the 89th minute. It's just impossible. However, you have take into consideration all the problems that we had this week and the patch up we did. We had to field players with injuries. The three in the back were all injured. We don't have any other capable players it's as simple as that."
Fiji missed the services of number one goalkeeper Simione Tamanisau, New Zealand-based mid fielder Salesh Kumar, strikers Josaia Bukalidi and Malakai Tiwa and defender Samuela Vula.
Buzzetti said they lost too many quality players before the encounter.
"We lost too many people and there are not many players available," the Uruguayan said.
"We had two physiotherapists working fulltime with players the whole week. Some recovered but some didn't. It's too much because when you lose players like Tiwa, Salesh and Samu."But in saying that the boys performed in patches of the game."
"I was satisfied with the first 20 minutes. I want not satisfied after that. We completely lost the plot there. They lost the plot because they wanted to lose the plot its just simple as that. If they played like they did at training than we would have these problems."
Buzzetti praised the New Caledonians for a great fight back.
Fiji started the match on a high note with Navua's Valerio Nawatu netting in the 2nd minute on debut.
Vakatalesau broke through the New Caledonian defence before squaring a pass to Nawatu who slammed the ball in from close range.
New Caledonia's striker Michel Hmae tested Shamal Kumar early with a drive from an acute angle.
Pita Bolaitoga and Krishna combined well with their short passes before sending Vakatalesau clear on the left flank.
The lanky striker rifled the ball in past a diving Marc Ounemoa.
New Caledonia pulled one goal back in the 66th minute after a blunder by Taniela Waqa.
Hmae raced with the ball towards the box and provided a timely cross for Ramon Ijahali to steer home.
Replacement striker Patrick Diaike took an ambitious drive toward the Fiji goal mouth in the 85th minute.
Fiji goalie Kumar spilled the greasy ball allowing Mael Kaudre to guide it in.
With the match locked at 2-all both teams searched for the winner pushing its players in attack.
A quick free kick by Bolaitoga set Fiji's third goal.
The Wairarapa United striker passed the ball to Krishna who beat two New Caledonian defender and the goalkeeper before passing it to Vakatalesau who easily guided the ball to the back of the net.
With the clock ticking down to full time New Caledonia launched a last minute raid on the Fiji goal mouth.
Bako sent in a perfect cross which was met by Hmae in mid air nodding the ball past a hapless Kumar leaving the several hundred Fiji fans perplexed.
New Caledonia coach Didier Chambaron said the draw was a good result for his team considering they were without ten of their top players.
He said they are hoping to lift the momentum in Noumea on Wednesday.
In another encounter New Zealand defeated Vanuatu 2-1 in Port Vila.
Fiji: Shamal Kumar, Esava Samudere, Apisolome Turuva, Pita Boliatoga, Valerio Nawatu, Osea Vakatalesau, Pita Rabo, Peni Finau, Taniela Waqa, Roy Krishna, Malakai Kainihewe.
New Caledonia: Marc Ounemoa, Benjamin Longue, Georges Wademges, Andre Simedo, Yohann Hercier, Fabien Saridjan, Jean Patrick, Adolpha Boaoutho, Marius Bako, Michel Hmae, Ramon Ijahali.