Cricket Fiji began its preparations for the upcoming U19 World Cup Qualifiers scheduled for the 5th – 17th of September in Samoa.
Fiji will be seeking to qualify for its second U19 World Cup after making its maiden appearance at the 2016 event held in Bangladesh but understand the competition will be tough this year.
The qualifiers which are held every 2 years will also feature the region’s top two nations in PNG and Vanuatu respectively as well as hosts Samoa, and the young Fijian side will enter the competition as underdogs boasting most possibly one of the youngest sides in the tournament.
“Our current squad is quite young with an average age of 16, we’ve got quite an inexperienced side but are focussed on working hard and ensuring that the players understand the task at hand”, Cricket Fiji High Performance Manager, Joe Rika.
The squad began training with the High Performance Unit at Bidesi Park in Suva with Rika focussing on lifting the player’s fitness levels before shifting focus to their individual skill sets.
The Cricket Fiji Junior High Performance squad also commenced training this week after a lapse of 1 year and Cricket Fiji is happy with the level of commitment shown by the young players.
“The Junior High Performance Squad is made up 14 – 16 year olds with focus on preparing this group for the next qualifiers. We have players that are in the U19 squad that will join up with the JHP squad at the end of the qualifiers and will remain together for the next 2 years with weekly training sessions with the High Performance Unit”, Rika continued.
PNG will be looking to revenge their loss to Fiji in 2015 after winning all the previous qualifiers since 2001. They have set their sights on regaining the spot as the regions number U19 side following the success of the National Men’s side and the Women’s recent win at the EAP Women’s Tournament in Japan.
The Head Coach position for the National U19 team has been advertised with an announcement expected to be made by early June.