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Fiji cause massive upset with 3-0 win over Honduras

04 June 2015, 13:19

Wellington - Fiji caused a massive upset in the under-20 World Cup on Thursday with a 3-0 win over Honduras, arguably doing more for the fortunes of Oceania soccer than any other team from the collection of 11 South Pacific nations.

The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) is FIFA's weakest with nine of their nations in the bottom 25 of FIFA's rankings.

Australia went to two World Cup finals as Oceania champions before they joined the Asian Football Confederation in 2006 while New Zealand have also been to two World Cups.

While Oceania club champions Auckland City have performed credibly at Club World Cups, finishing third last year, no national side from the far-flung region have truly made their mark on world soccer.

With a population of just 900,000 Fiji are more well known for the exploits of their rugby sevens side and are appearing in their first FIFA tournament of any kind.

Also read: Yahaya apologizes over loss to Brazil

Even then, their qualification was made easier because Oceania's top-ranked nation New Zealand are the tournament hosts.

Fiji were hammered 8-1 by world soccer heavyweights Germany in their opening game in Christchurch on Monday but on Thursday, Frank Farina's side looked far from the team that had appeared pleased to have just scored their first goal at a World Cup.

First-half goals within five minutes of each other from Ratu Waranaivalu and Saula Waqa had given the Fijians a surprise 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.

They extended their lead with a third right on the brink of half time when an Atonio Tuivuna header from a corner was deflected by Honduras defender Kevin Alvarez past Cristian Hernandez to give the Fijians a 3-0 lead at the break.

Honduras, who had beaten Uzbekistan 4-3 in their opening encounter, did everything but score in the second half, and were denied several times by the post and some superb saves from close range by Misiwani Nairube.

"Our boys have realised that they can play at this level and that they do deserve to be here," Farina told a media conference in Christchurch. "This is a wonderful position for us to be in and we have everything to play for.

"We have nothing to lose and we will fight to go through as we improve from each game and learn from this incredible experience."

In New Plymouth, Brazil qualified for the round of 16 after they were forced to battle against a 10-man Hungary before a goal to captain Danilo and an 86th minute penalty by Andreas Pereira gave them a 2-1 victory in their Group E clash.

Hungary's Bence Mervo had given his side a 1-0 advantage in the ninth minute before left back Krisztian Tamas was booked in the 12th and again four minutes later by referee Fahad Al Mirdasi and sent off.

Germany also advanced to the knockout phase from Group F with a 3-0 win over Uzbekistan in the late game in Christchurch, while Nigeria beat North Korea 4-0 in the early game in New Plymouth.

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- Reuters


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