Building for a brighter future
The dream came to a crashing halt in the final as New Zealand routed Fiji to win through to France 2019 and the 2020 Olympic Women’s Football Tournament. The Melanesians, however, had already created history as the only current OFC member other than New Zealand or PNG to feature in the final in what was the 11th edition of the tournament.
“Coming out of the qualification stage we didn’t expect to come all this way,” Rodu said after the Women’s Nations Cup. “Our structure is still young, but to see these girls come out and prove themselves here in the region is quite amazing.”
“I was expecting we would reap the benefit of our work at [the 2019] Pacific Games.”
Fiji’s key personnel were acknowledged at the New Caledonia-based Women’s Nations Cup, headlined by Adi Tuwai who was named goalkeeper of the tournament.
Jet-heeled teenage striker Trina Davis was a breakout performer and was the tournament’s top-scorer across the two stages of competition. Luisa Tamanitoakula netted six goals in the Nations Women’s Cup – a figure bettered only by New Zealand’s Sarah Gregorius and PNG ace Meagen Gunemba – while Cema Nasau was a regular contributor in attack.
“We imagine that we can only improve football in Fiji, right now it is just only an infant,” said Rodu.
“Those are still baby steps and we expect that to grow with the result that we are bringing home, that should motivate people to work even harder.”
Now ranked 72, Fiji’s all-time high of 69 on the global pecking order is suddenly very much in sight.