Fiji have opened their OFC Under 19 Football Championship with a impressive 3-1 victory over Melanesian rivals Vanuatu.
The Junior Bula Boys took the lead just before half-time when Ratu Dau chipped goalkeeper Joshua Willie after beating Junior Bule in a foot race to set up a one on one opportunity.
Tito Vodowaqa doubled Fiji’s advantage nine minutes into the second spell after connecting with a low cross across the face of goal from Mohammed Naizal.
Vanuatu, who finished runners-up to New Zealand at the last OFC Under 19 Championship, pegged a goal back in the 80th minute when a foul in the box allowed Jordy Tasip to convert from the penalty spot.
But with only added time remaining Vanuatu conceded a penalty of their own at the other end of the field.
Kishan Sami saw his first effort saved but kept his cool to slot home the follow up attempt which gave Fiji a 3-1 lead that they held until the final whistle.
Head coach Bal Reddy said it was a well deserved victory.
“That is basically what we are here for so these three points is a little bit of pressure released and the boys have really played their hearts out today,” he said.
“It’s a sweet victory for us in terms of in the last two World Cup (qualifying tournament) Vanuatu defeated us so I think it’s a good one for us.”