Despite the big win Fiji wait for the NZ/Vanuatu result to see if they progress
The Fijians must now hope New Zealand loses to Vanuatu by four goals or more to progress.
Fiji knew they would have to post a massive win to have any chance of overhauling New Zealand’s goal difference and such a margin looked a distinct possibility after a first half in which they played their best futsal of the tournament.
Six goals to Sandeep Nair, four to skipper Kamal Hassan and three to Hussein Sahib were supplemented by loan strikes from Shivam Nathan, Uraia Loki, Ratu Dugucagi and Aisea Codro to put them 17-2 up by the break, Kiribati’s goals both going to the same player, Bita Keakea.
But the scoring slowed somewhat in the second period as Fiji’s hopes of making ground on New Zealand faded.
Further strikes to Nair, Hassan, Sahib, Nathan and Ajesh Narayan got Fiji up to the 22-goal mark but Kiribati also managed another response, Keakea completing his hat-trick to send Kiribati’s rowdy supporters delirious.
Fiji now have to sweat it out and wait for the result of the New Zealand-Vanuatu game to see if they will progress to the semi-finals.
Fiji coach Intiaz Khan:
It’s too late for us to change anything now. If New Zealand loses by a big margin then we have a chance but otherwise we are out of the tournament. Either way, we have another match tomorrow so we need to regroup and get ready for that. This is a team we put together in five weeks – we have not had as long together as some of the other sides. I think we have done a lot in that time and I don’t think we could have expected much more than this.
Kiribati coach Pine Iosefa:
We tried our best but it is hard for us to beat a team like Fiji. They have very good players and it is difficult for our boys to match them. But we managed to score three goals which is an achievement in itself.