Fiji Dominates in Semifinal Quest at OFC U-19 Championship

Fiji has secured a spot in the semifinals of the OFC Men’s U-19 Championship in Samoa with a decisive 6-1 victory over Vanuatu in their final group match.

Under the guidance of coach Marika Rodu, Fiji needed a significant win to advance to the elimination round following a 3-0 loss to the Solomon Islands.

Midfield maestro Ibrahim Afazal shone brightly for Fiji, scoring two goals and playing a crucial role in setting up the other four. Despite Vanuatu taking an early lead in the fourth minute with a goal from Glen Maki, Fiji quickly responded. Captain Penisoni Tirau equalized with a free header from an Afazal free-kick.

Eparama Moraica made a strong run into the box in the 25th minute and squared the ball to Afazal, who scored with his first attempt, giving Fiji the lead. Sydney-based Afazal then added a spectacular long-distance goal, leaving the Vanuatu goalkeeper stunned.

Co-Captain Sterling Vasconcellos extended Fiji’s lead just before halftime by heading in an Afazal corner at the far post. Vasconcellos scored another header in the second half from an Afazal set-piece, and defender William Khan capped off the scoring, netting his first international goal with a header from a corner late in the match.

This victory places Fiji at the top of Group A with six points. The final standings in the group depend on the outcome of the Tahiti versus Solomon Islands match. Vanuatu, after three consecutive defeats, will compete in the playoff for seventh place on Tuesday.

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