Fiji comeback denies New Caledonia
Fiji come from 2-0 down to draw with New Caledonia at home
Fiji’s first point of Stage 3 qualifying for Russia 2018
The pair playing for pride only with New Zealand assured of top spot
An impressive comeback has helped Fiji to a 2-2 draw against New Caledonia in Lautoka for its first points of Oceania’s Stage 3 qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.
New Caledonia’s Mone Wamowe scored a double by the midway point of the first half to give the visiting Les Cagous a handy advantage.
However, Saula Waqa pulled a goal back a few moments before the interval for the home side, and star forward Roy Krishna – who surprisingly started on the bench – drew the pair level on 54 minutes.
The visitors’ hopes took a further blow with 20 minutes remaining when Emile Bearune was dismissed for a second cautionable offence.
New Zealand were already assured of top spot in the group, leaving Fiji and New Caledonia battling for pride only.
Fiji fielded something of an experimental line-up, while New Caledonia were notably without the services of powerhouse forward Bertrand Kai due to suspension.
The pair will meet again on Sunday in New Caledonia with a draw enough for the home side to lock up second spot.
Matches in Group B will take place on Friday and Tuesday with Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands fighting to overhaul group leaders Tahiti and earn a ticket to the continental play-off.