It is really not expected to see a striker playing in a very different position than usual; imagine if he is forced to play as a goalkeeper in an emergency. The striker Sanaila Waqanicakau played all games of the most recent Fiji FACT group stage as a goalkeeper for his team Ba – this is really not a great achievement for Fijian football as this proves the level of competition is still far from full-professionalism. Currently, players are even more focused and turned into specialists of certain positions of the game – it is not expected a central striker such as Waqanicakau to play as a goalkeeper.
The very tall player already played as a goalkeeper in the past, but he proved to be a good weapon for Ba in the season scoring important goals for the team: but so, why he was forced to be his team goalkeeper?
Important names such as Misiwani Nairube and Isikeli Sevanaia were left out of the tournament due injuries and the team was missing a goalkeeper to trust; as the head coach Ronil Kumar was not confident to bring a very young goalkeeper for such important tournament as Fiji FACT, he decided to give Sanaila Waqanicakau the spot: he is experienced, already played in this position in the start of his career and is almost 200cm tall.
Sanaila was not only the goalkeeper for the last the match against Labasa, but he also served as team captain for the decisive match that unfortunately for him and his team did not go their way.
But, the truth – believe it or not – is that Waqanicakau proved to be in the level required even in a so weird scenario; the giant did not commit serious mistakes – despite scoring an own goal in his team only win in the competition against Nasinu – that influnced in the outcome of the results.
The 30-year-old is still a better striker than a goalkeeper; then when Nairube and Sevanaia can return it is natural both of them can retake their spot. What is necessary to be posted here is that due the circumstances, the striker-goalkeeper played an important role and even made impressive stops throughout the tournament.
Ba did not make it to the semis, but this is certainly a detail that is interesting to be adressed by the football fans of Oceania. But, if possible, coaches and officials, please avoid doing such decisions as this – Oceanian football is already seen as a place ‘where weirdness happens’, making this even more often is not going to help the status either the development of the game in the region.