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AUSTRALIA COUNTRY MEN GRAB THEIR FIRST-EVER OPC TITLE
Australia Country grabbed their first-ever Oceania Pacific Cup title when they defeated tournament hosts Fiji 7-5 in the Final.
Injured Fijian captain Hector Smith Junior said “I told the boys at halftime the battle’s not lost yet; we play to the final whistle.”
It was a different Fiji team after the breather as the piled on four goals to Australia’s two in the second half.
Fiji’s fight back was again led by the tournament’s top goalscorer Leevan Dutta with two and Adrian Smith a hat-trick (18, 42 & 59).
“It was a very close game, “said Australia Country captain Zach Nelson. “Typical of the Fijians to comeback in the way they did.”
Nelson who’s been here four times says every time the Fijian team continues to impress and he will definitely be cheering for Fiji in the second round of the world league in India in February.
The Fijian side played true to their coach’s words as they put their bodies on the line trying to make it a double gold after winning yesterday’s world league qualifier against Papua New Guinea.
The Aussies were coming off a well earned rest and looked the sharper and fitter team as they had the Fijian side scrambling to catch up.
The Fijian team management had to console and encourage the Fijian team at the end of the match as tears flowed.
“You must hold your heads high. You did Fiji and your families proud today, you were four goals down and you fought back, that showed your character and who you are,” said coach Smith Senior.
Fiji striker Adrian Smith who top scored in the final said “I think we could have done much better but at the end of the day the boys did their best. I’m very proud of them for coming back from four goals down.”
Australia Country 7- Timothy Luscombe (23, 31), Jyi Connolly (50, 57), Joshua Gregory (4), Khyle Rush (11) and Samuel Macpherson (34), Fiji 5- Dutta (41, 69) and Adrian (18, 42 & 59).