Group A: Match 4 - Fiji impress in 4-1 win
A second half brace to skipper Veresa Toma and a goal a piece to Thomas Vulivuli and Luke Vidovi was enough to see the Fijians over the line against a Solomons side that played with a lot of heart, but lacked the technical nous to really trouble their opponents.
Coach Billy Singh's men executed their game plan flawlessly for the most part, utilising the height and physical dominance of Toma upfront to open up chances for his strike partner Vulivuli.
The Fiji front two were well supported by left wing duo Alvin Avinesh and Salesh Kumar, while at the back, sweeper Pene Erenio comfortably dealt with what rare attacks the Solomons could muster.
Vulivuli's fourth minute opener was a virtual deathblow to the Solomons, who were visibly pumped for the occasion before kick off.
The impressive Suva marksman was able to get on the end of a cross from Laisiasa Gataurua to give the Fijians a 1-0 lead before the game had settled into any momentum.
As the game progressed, the Fijians asserted more control and began to show why they are touted as the team most likely to unsettle Australia in the coming rounds.
On twelve minutes, Fiji doubled their lead.
Again, the Solomons marking left a lot to be desired when Luke Vidovi was allowed a free header from a Vulivuli corner.
At 2-0, the Solomons were left with a mountain to climb and ultimately, they were not up to the challenge.
With star export Henry Fa'arodo playing behind the strike pairing of Jerry Sam and Alick Maemae, the Solomons always looked dangerous, but lacked that final pass that was needed to unlock the tight Fijian defence.
As the first half came to a close, Vulivuli added to a polished first half performance by being at the centre of two Fijian efforts that were cleared off the goal line.
The Solomons looked rejuvenated when the second half begun and seemed likely to reduce the deficit until another Vulivuli moment wrapped up the game for the men in white.
The 22 year old striker showed great poise in holding up the ball and then laying it off to Toma, who had no hesitation in blasting his shot into the back of the net for 3-0.
To the Solomons credit, they continued to press the Fijian defence and almost snuck a goal through Sam, who was looking to add to his tally of two for the tournament so far.
But the New Zealand based striker was at fault in the 71st minute when he mistimed a pass straight into the path of Toma who showed top class control and balance to hold off a string of Solomon defenders and hit a firm, low shot past Jeffrey Arhue to make the score 4-0.
The only consolation for the Solomons was a 75th minute goal to Maemae, who has impressed in both of the Solomons outings so far.
The Koloale forward was on the receiving end of a well weighted cross from substitute Benjamin Mela and made no mistake in volleying home the Solomons fifth goal of the tournament.
Frank Farina will have plenty to ponder after witnessing what was a very sharp and very convincing performance from Fiji, who look to have what it takes to unsettle the Aussies on their day.
The Fijians will now Papua New Guinea on Sunday and will be looking to assume joint leadership of Group A.
The Solomons face a very determined Samoan side in what should be an intriguing encounter. - By Benjamin Coonan
Match 4: Solomon Islands vs Fiji / Statistical Review
Full-time score: 1-4 (Fiji)
Half-time score: 0-2 (Fiji)
Date/Time: Friday, 16 January - 7:30pm (AEST)
Fiji - (9) Thomas Vulivuli 3'; (5) Luke Vidovi 12'; (10) Veresa Ratu Toma 64', 66
Sol - (7) Alick Maemae 75
Cautions: Fiji - Ratu Marika Rodu 82' ; Sol - Jerry Sam 53'; George Suri 83
Weather: Overcast, light rain, humid
Crowd attendance: 1290
Referee: Ron Wilbur (Vanuatu)
Assistant Referee 1: Michel Angot (Tahiti)
Assistant Referee 2: Michael Mouauri (Cook Islands)
Fourth Official: Charles Ariiotima (Tahiti)
Match Commissioner: `Ahongalu Fusimalohi (Tonga)
Referee Inspector: Barry Such (Australia)
Team Line-ups (& Substitutes)
1. Jeffrey Aruhe (GK)
3. Phillip Boe (c)
4. Dick Ngota
5. George Suri
6. Jerry Sam (-73')
7. Alick Maemae
8. Vivian Wickham
15. Marshall Hiro (-63')
16. Lency Saeni (-70')
17. Addyca Maeta
18. Henry Fa'arodo
2. Tome Faisi (+63')
9. Simon Sau
10. Michael Misitana
11. Kidston Olomani (+73')
12. George Abba
13. Clifford Huta
14. Benjamin Mela (+70')
19. Jack Wasi
20. Felix Ray Jr (RGK)
Coach: Matai Vave
1. Simione Tamanisau (gk)
2. Lorima Dau (-70')
4. Alvin Avinesh (-65')
5. Luke Vidovi
6. Jone Vesikula
7. Pene Erenio
9. Thomas Vulivuli
10. Veresa Ratu Toma (c)
13. Taniela Waqa (-85')
15. Salesh Kumar
18. Laisiasa Gataurua
3. Ratu Marika Rodu (+65')
8. Waisake Sabutu (+70')
11. Jesoni Takala
12. Esala Ali
14. Osea Vakatalesau
16. Petero Dauniseka
17. Samuela Vula (+85')
19. Nicholas Lawrence
20. Afroz Nabi (RGK)
Coach : Billy Singh
Last Modified on 25/01/2004 13:26