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By MERE NALEBA
Two former national soccer reps are pleading with the Fiji Football Association (FFA) to lift the standard of soccer in the country.
Michael Joseph and John Lal are in the country to attend a reunion of Suva’s Marist/St Columbas soccer club.
Lal echoed Joseph’s sentiments adding that the playing time for all major tournaments should be 90 minutes instead of 60.
“How can we lift the game and match the standard of soccer overseas if we are playing 60 minutes of soccer,” Joseph asked.
“We can never match up to international teams if our playing standard remain where it is.”
“Back then we had to pay for everything. We were not even paid for our services in our district teams. And when we represented the country, we paid for our food, travel allowance and everything else,” Lal said.
Joseph said it would be nice to see the Fiji team travel overseas to take part in international matches.
Lal, who is now 79 years old, said the level of soccer during their time and today were at two different levels altogether.
“We were never swayed to go and join other districts,” Lal said.
“We had the passion to play soccer. Today there is no district pride. For us even if a district offered us $200 or $300 our district was more important than other districts.”
Joseph now resides in Canada while Lal currently lives in Australia.
They collectively felt that the buck stops with the players to do the right thing and not be intimidated by what districts had to offer.
“It’s not about the money. They should have the game at heart. We played with so much pride. Now it will be good to see the national side secure a test match with an overseas team,” Lal said.
“Fiji was one of the most feared teams in the Pacific. Now even Samoa is above us in ranking,” Joseph said.
The two men played for Suva at the district level and they congratulated the Suva soccer team for restoring lost pride in the capital city.