Fiji players come in as ban goes out

Soccer enthusiasts can expect to see an impressive number of high quality soccer players from Fiji in action at the forthcoming Veteran Soccer Tournament in Auckland.

The New Zealand Government recently lifted the ban on sporting teams from the South Pacific nation. The ban was imposed soon after Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama took over the reins of administration in December 2006.

Fiji Times reported that the Twelfth Sashi Mahendra Memorial Cup, organised by the New Zealand Fiji Veteran Soccer Association in Center Park, Mangere from January 27 to 31, 2011, would be the first after the ban was removed.

“The annual Tournament had been affected greatly with the bans which were placed following the military takeover in December 2006,” it said.

It quoted NZFVSA Secretary Ayaaz Khan as saying that the forthcoming Tournament would feature prominent former national players from Fiji.

“In the past we have had the likes of Shiu Sami’s Ba Legends, Mal Khan’s Fiji West, Abraham Watkins’ Nadroga Stallions, the Fiji Police side and Fiji South led by Abdul Manaan and Ratu Suliano Matanitabua. I am positive that the good news from the Immigration Department will bring the former national reps back again,” he said.

The tournament will also include teams from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canada and the US.

Melbourne Masters will defend the Sashi Mahendra Memorial Cup, which is played in the Over-35 category.

Hamilton Nadroga will defend the Billy Singh Memorial Cup which is played in the Over-40 category.

Mr Khan said the new Stadium will become the new home for Fiji Soccer.

“This will include all Veterans’ Tournaments including the upcoming Jo Tubuna Memorial Cup and the Gopal Krishna Memorial Cup in November,” he said.

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