New Zealand Nadi Legends and Nadi Legends in a group picture after the inaugural Joe Lutumailagi Cup game in Nadi yesterday. NZ Nadi won 2-1.

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Impressed! Not really

Opinions / Analysis

WHILE Suva emphatically won the back- to- back Fiji FACT championship, the tournament was anything but eventful.

Not that the Babs Khan’s brigade was any less impressive, it is the two-week tournament that was far short on the beautiful game.

And more, there have been a cascade of criticisms on the field condition, back-to-back games, poor referees, substandard football, and low crowd turnout.

Lawaqa Park

The hard playing surface of Lawaqa Park made it just as hard for teams to display quality football.

The field worsened by the day, and besides the occasional few touches, teams opted to take long punts to reach the opposite ends.

And all with the hope of scoring goals in the way of bad bounce, more than on brisk combination to buildups.

Back-to-back 90-minute games

What else precluded the teams from bringing out their A-plus game was the everyday 90 minutes games.

The back-to-back games set-in fatigue factor, injuries and it impacted recovery time.

While the FFA harps about following the FIFA laws, they are far from owning up to it.

FIFA recommends at least 2 days between matches, but FFA cherry picks on laws that suit them.

A study in the ‘Football Journal’ findings revealed that 90 minutes of competitive football can have a significant effect on your mind and body.

A competitive football match depletes energy stores, dehydrates and results in a degree of muscle damage.

Mental fatigue is also often overlooked yet is a huge part of recovery.

And from a nutrition perspective recovery is dependent upon the player’s ability to restore energy levels with dietary carbohydrate and to a lesser extent fat (intramuscular triglycerides), to rehydrate with fluids, repair muscle and reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.

That said, the soaring temperatures throughout the tournament did not help the players during the 4-day event.

It drains out the fitness level, which eventually affects the performance.


The poor referees have once again been called out, and the officiating does not seem to improve in the country.

With all the FIFA/ OFC training courses, local referees fail miserably to interpret the application on the laws of the game, and it is one area of huge concern.

Referee Deepak Raj set a new low when he awarded Suva a disputed penalty in a match against Tailevu Naitasiri on Day 2 of the tournament.

Raj was suspended after the Oceania Football Confederation called him out for the wrongdoing.

He was the referee at the center of controversy during the 2020 Fiji FACT final between Nadi and Suva in Labasa.

In both the cases, Raj failed to recognize the games enacted laws.

He would be a good riddance.

Ba coach Imdad Ali has all the reason to vent his displeasure at the match referee following Ba’s 4-3 semifinal loss to Labasa.

Ali said the referee made questionable calls during the game.

“We want to bring up football. We do not want to drop football just because of these referees.”

"So, these kinds of things should not happen, and I very strongly feel that Fiji football should look into this."

Standard of football

The football standard is being labeled as the ‘Bedford’ brand by a former national team footballer, who wishes to remain anonymous.

“You see those Bedford’ in reference to old trucks, football is much like it,” he said.

“These trucks are just as vintage as the football in the country.”

He said what is sad about it all is that with professional national football head coach, Flemming Serritslev and Fiji FA Technical Director Timo Jankoski, the standard of sport has not improved.


The 2022 has recorded the lowest fans support.

Unlike previous years, where crowds turned out in the thousands, the Lawaqa Park did not score well in attracting sports fans from around the country.

For the 2022 Fiji FACT tournament was less impressive in the ways it spills out.

Impressed! Not really.

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