According to local sources, Rodolfo Zapata, the Argentinian head coach of Fiji U-20, has departed from his position and left the country. The U-20 squad of Fiji, which is preparing for the U-20 World Cup in Indonesia in May, is now under the charge of Ronil Lal, the former head coach of the team. Lal was responsible for qualifying Fiji for the U-20 World Cup last year in the U-19 OFC Championship held in Tahiti.
During the Tri-Nations friendly tournament, where Fiji U-20 is playing against Fiji national team, Vanuatu, and Solomon Islands, Zapata was not in charge of the team. Lal was already seen as the head coach, and no announcement was made by Fiji FA about Zapata’s departure. Zapata coached only for three matches, in an invitational tournament held in Jakarta, Indonesia, where Fiji U-20 lost all its three games to Indonesia, Guatemala, and New Zealand, conceding ten goals and scoring just once.
The team seemed to have behavior problems, as Fiji saw four red cards, with three just in one game, during these three friendly matches. The exact reasons for Zapata’s departure are still undisclosed. The signing of Zapata came as something questionable to the Fijian football community that expected Ronil Lal to keep in charge of the team due his good results in 2022.
This sudden departure of Zapata is a setback for the Fiji U-20 team, which is preparing for the upcoming U-20 World Cup. However, Ronil Lal’s experience and expertise may help the team to overcome this situation and get ready for the competition. It is still unknown wether the former Labasa head coach is going to be the head coach in the U-20 World Cup.