But they helped proved a point; that Oceania football is more competitive than what many may have thought. And, that New Zealand isn't necessarily always the top player in the region. In fact, signs have been there. New Zealand's 2-4 loss against Vanuatu in the 2004 OFC Nations Cup prevented them from making the final round, and they eventually finished third behind Australia and the Solomon Islands. In 2012, New Caledonia shocked the New Zealanders in the semifinal, 2-0, in a tournament Tahiti eventually won. Oceania's members may not strike fear elsewhere on the globe, but their internal rivalry and skill seems to increasing. While New Zealand's senior team is ranked 136th globally, the rest of the region is fairly close together - between New Caledonia at 167 and Fiji at 199 are five other federation sides. Granted, this may represent the bottom of the FIFA rankings barrel, but does indicate close intra-federation rivalries.
Which brings us back to Fiji and that U-20 side. Many of those players who scored that historic victory in New Zealand came back to the team for the Pacific Games U-23 tournament, doubling as the Olympic qualifying event for Oceania. Again, New Zealand entered as the heavy favorite, but in a shocking and confusing disqualification, were ruled out. With the door opened, Fiji emerged as the titleist over Vanuatu. And so, Fiji finds itself with a ticket to Rio 2016 and the Olympics. Who knows - might Fiji have scored in upset over New Zealand in the final? Maybe...they've won international big moment games before. Just look back to June, and ironically, in New Zealand. And, just as in that U-20 run with having a little luck in getting entry, they perhaps had a little luck in getting entry to Rio with the disqualification. But here's hoping they take advantage of the moment again, and score a goal or two - or a win. Fiji is on board now in world football. Let's enjoy that.