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Call for sweeping changes

Opinions / Analysis

FORMER footballers and fans have taken to social media platforms demanding sweeping changes at the football house.

The furore deepened following the U23 team’s pathetic 9-0 loss to New Zealand at the OFC Olympic Qualifiers held in Auckland.

The sports faithful are pleading with the stakeholders to draw up an action plan to remove the Fiji Football Association president Rajesh Patel, his board and CEO Mohammed Yusuf.

Former Fijian footballers of the 80s joined the bandwagon in calling for changes at the football house.

Henry Dyer said football has gone from bad to worse, adding the players are not to be blamed but the people who are responsible for running the organization.

“How does one fathom a 9-0 loss, what the sport has come to be.

“It all comes down to FFA. Dire change is needed.”

The time couldn’t be better for the country’s Youth and Sports Minister Jese Saukuru to step in and appoint an interim body with football know- how’s said former Fijian footballer and New Zealand resident Epeli Kosa.

“It’s about time the Fijian football community demands change.

“I live in New Zealand but every time Fiji plays New Zealand I root for my former countrymen. My other suggestion is with Fiji losing to New Zealand every time, Fiji should just hire a Kiwi coach, that would solve the problem.

“If not Government of the day should step up, if Attorney General Siromi Turaga can intervene and clean up FRU, why can’t the same be done with FFA.”

Saukuru had earlier voiced his concerns about the direction the sport was headed, taking a swipe at the organization that it is time for young blood to take football to new heights.

And even the Deputy Prime Minister Biman Prasad echoed similar sentiments.

He questioned why the men’s football ranking has plummeted to an all-time low despite an abundance of talent and huge FIFA funding.

Action plan

The stakeholders, like the district delegates have two choices, watch the sport rot away or step up and do something about it.

And if for some reason the district delegates can’t vote out the head honcho, who is just as ambitious about his position as his predecessor then by all means the Sports Minister should intervene.

Development shy

With Robert Sherman as the new head coach backed by a whole host of technical staff, the Fiji U23 team was basic shy, stop, hold and pass routine, no coaches needed here, how hard it is to do this, unless your Fiji U23.

Football in the country is doomed, the FIFA rating (169) is all time low, there’s no sign of progress in development, as much as FFA harps about it, nothing seems to be going right.

The team’s humiliating loss to New Zealand is a kick in the gut for FFA  as it raises serious doubts on its development program.

Fiji schooled good

What hundreds of Fijians at the stadium and the thousands around the globe saw can judge for themselves, the pitiful display of football against New Zealand who schooled Fiji.

New Zealand have qualified for four of the last five men's football tournaments at the Olympics dating back to Beijing 2008, the first edition in which Australia began competing through Asian qualifying.

New Zealand have emerged as the dominant force in Oceanian football since then, with their only absence coming at Rio 2016, when they beat Vanuatu 2-0 in qualifying semi-finals at the Port Moresby 2015 Pacific Games but were disqualified after the OFC found Deklan Wynne was ineligible to play.

Fiji went on to represent Oceania at Rio 2016 after beating Vanuatu on penalties, but were heavily beaten in their three group matches.

Lack tactical mindset

Fiji lacked tactical and technical lace in every facet of the game and  while the the hierarchy will downplay with its ‘teething narrative’ that football has progressed, head coach Robert Sherman admitted it on OFC media that the team anything but.

"We were totally outclassed. We lacked tactical and technical aspects of the game.”

The drubbing manifests the failed blueprint of the development program, and the worst model designed.

Rhyme a reason

What excuses if any the head honchos have, besides Patel and Yusuf will put on a brave face to say they will wait for the coaches’ report before making comments as to what went wrong.

The former footballers and fans don’t need any such report as it’s clear as daylight that nothing will come out of it.

Enough is enough, time for a sweeping change at the football house.

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