24 Mar 2017

Sport: Fiji footballers racing against time

2:24 pm on 24 March 2017

Fiji football coach Christophe Gamel says a disrupted build-up has added to the monumental task his players face in home and away World Cup qualifying matches against New Zealand.

The Frenchman is a former assistant coach with the Paris St Germain women's team and has also worked in Qatar and Hungary before moving to Fiji at the start of the year.

Fiji football coach Christophe Gamel.

Fiji football coach Christophe Gamel. Photo: Fiji Football

The national squad has been in camp for the past two weeks but he said the weather has played havoc with their preparations.

"We were in Suva because of the rain and this kind of thing so it does put me in trouble with my staff," he said.

"But now we have moved to Ba and everything is ok...I will not have so many days because most of the players they were in OFC Champions League so it's not the best way to prepare this game because it's amateur against professional player and for us it will be very very hard.

"We know already that the task is really hard hard hard. We respect a lot New Zealand as they are professional - I like the way of the coach [Anthony Hudson].

"So let's see how it will fit, first of all these problems and how my team will react when I will have the full team [all together in training]."

Fiji captain Roy Krishna is his country's chief scoring threat.

Roy Krishna in possession against Fiji during last year's OFC Nations Cup. Photo: OFC via Phototek

Gamel only had his full squad together for the first time on Wednesday, including captain Roy Krishna, and said the team is very much a work in progress.

"Nothing comes overnight. When you want to change the mentality, the type of work it will take time. The problem is that I have not time," he said.

"On Saturday and next Tuesday we will have two big games but we willl do our best and as amateurs we try to work in a professional mentality.

"It's going [to be] hard for most of the players but they have to learn in this kind of thinking."

Christophe Gamel has also taken a hardline approach with a number of players overlooked for the upcoming games because they did not meet the required standard.

"Some players they were not fit [for the] mentality or they didn't attend the camp so I will now not accept it anymore because it is national duty by FIFA rules," he said.

"If they didn't like it they will not come anymore or they will have sanctions because they have to respect the federation so some of them they are not in the team

Soon I will fix this in the future but I have few time - the priority is to work with who wants to work for Fiji."

Leeds United striker Chris Wood will captain the All Whites against Fiji.

Leeds United striker Chris Wood will captain the All Whites against Fiji. Photo: OFC via Phototek