Sami, Baledrokadroka to lead Fiji in Oceania football tournament

The Vodafone National U23 Football team at the Fiji FA Academy in Ba. Picture: SUPPLIED

BA’S Kishan Sami and Rewa’s Joela Baledrokadroka will spearhead Fiji’s campaign in Group B of the Oceania Football Confederation Olympic Qualifying tournament that kicks off at Churchill Park in Lautoka this afternoon.

Sami and Baledrokadroka have been named as the co-captains of the Fiji under-23 team that is defending the regional title.

The main aim of the national side is to emulate the feat of the 2015 squad which won the regional qualifiers on the way creating history by qualifying for the Olympics for the first time in Rio.

The winner of this tournament will gain direct entry to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Fiji will face an unknown Tongan side in their opening match at 3pm today.

Fiji U23 coach Marika Rodu said they would be taking the group stage seriously as they are not going into the tournament just to make up the numbers.

Rodu said the selections went through a transparent process.

“At the beginning, there were more than 70 players in the training squad,” he said.

“Then some overseas players joined in April so it was not an easy task to try and ensure that we pick the right players for this journey.”

Fiji U23 Squad/Management/Officials: Atunaisa Naucukidi, Muni Shivam Naidu, Jovilisi Borisi, Afraz Ali, Ivan Kumar, Zainal Ali, Rajniel Chand, Joeli Ranitu, Mohammed Ishtiyaq Shah, Bruce Hughes, Tito Vodowaqa, Kishan Sami, Savenaca Baledrokadroka, Akeimi Ralulu, Arami Manumanubai, Sekove Finau, Patrick Joseph, Scott Wara, Peni Tuigulagula, Alzaar Alam

Officials: Aiyaz Umarji (Head of Delegation), Marika Rodu (Head Coach), Anushil Kumar (Manager), Anginesh Prasad (Assistant Coach), Shamal Kumar (Goalkeeper Coach), Sunil Kumar (Assistant Coach), Varoon Karan (Physiotherapist), Nishant Kumar (Physiotherapist)

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