1-0 (9) Charlie Yankos
2-0 (25) Warren Spink
3-0 (69) Charlie Yankos (pen.)
4-0 (84) Graham Arnold
5-0 (87) Paul Trimboli

5–1

5-1 (90) Lote Delai

1990 World Cup Qualification
OFC – First round, second leg
Video: Goals
Sat. 3 December 1988
Kick-off: –
Macquarie Field, Speers Point
Att.: 5,220
Ref.: Kenneth Wallace (NZE)
L1: John Cameron (NZE)
L2: Barry Tasker (NZE)

Preview

The return fixture of the two-legged affair seemed quite a mouth-watering prospect to the neutrals, who could be hoping that the minnows would be able to stand their ground for as long as possible, having shockingly upset the odds and won their home tie 1-0 a week earlier.

Australia had struggled with the plucky Fijians’ physical approach, and they would certainly need to up their game in order to progress through to the next phase. On home soil, though, they were still massive favourites to advance past this hurdle, but they would need to let the ball do the talking, and not be dragged down to the visitors’ level as far as focusing on incidents rather than football was concerned.

Australia

We do not have the full squad list of the 16 players participating on the matchday available to us, just like from the first leg, but there turns out to be just a solitary change to the starting eleven since the loss in Fiji a week earlier. This meant that manager Arok and his staff must have felt that the same group of players had it in them to go out and take control of the tie, and get the necessary goals for his team to progress through to the group stage of the qualification.

That one change in the starting line-up was 20 year old midfielder Jason Polak coming into the side at the expense of Mike Petersen. Polak was making his first appearance at full international level, and was the only Sydney Olympic player among the starters. He formed part of a five man midfield.

Graham Arnold, Australia’s main striker in this squad, was 25, and had gone 11 international matches without scoring. It was an abysmal run for any striker, and one which he would be expected to put an end to for the visit of lowly Fiji. However, he’d have to tackle some pretty fierce challenges from a group of very robust defenders. Ammunition from midfield would also need to be accurate.

Fiji

Billy Singh

The Fiji side are obviously something of an unknown quantity, but under manager Billy Singh, they were said to be the strongest group of players which the country had ever produced. Some of their most recent results had been very impressive, albeit the level of the opposition had perhaps not been of the highest calibre. Still, that 1-0 win seven days earlier had been a result which had reverberated around the globe, and a result which finally laid to rest the ghost of that 10-0 loss to the same opposition in qualification for the 1982 World Cup.

There was just a solitary change to the visitors’ starting eleven: Striker Ravuama Madigi, who had notched the goal last time around, then as a substitute, had been chosen ahead of Jone Watisoni. Manager Singh had deployed a 5-3-2 formation to try and tackle the home side’s expected offensive, and again, like in the previous meeting, they’d be looking to get into the faces of the Australian players. As a nation well known for their rugby union ability, their association football team was also equipped with a host of very strong and robust players.

Defending such a slender lead was obviously a very difficult task. They’d need to be switched on at all times, and certainly avoid giving away anything at the back. Keeping it tight for as long as possible was also significant.

Referee

Mr Wallace (with the ball) flanked by his two linesmen

A FIFA official since 1981, New Zealand citizen Ken Wallace was a teacher by profession. Despite being listed for several years already, the 38 year old’s only international assignments had happened the year before, when he had refereed two matches during the U16 World Cup in Canada. This was indeed a different proposition. 

Previous meetings

This was the two countries’ fifth meeting over all, with both having previously won twice. Their inaugural come together had occured in 1977, when Fiji had won a home friendly by 1-0. In qualification for the 1982 World Cup in Spain, the pair had met in July and August ’81, first in Fiji, where Australia had triumphed 4-1. In the home return fixture, the Ossies had ranked up a massive 10-0 win. Part of those two matches had been midfielder Alan Davidson, who was indeed in the starting line-up on this occasion, too. Fiji defender Abraham Watkins and midfielder Meli Vuilabasa had also played. Australia’s coach Gary Cole had netted no less than seven of those ten goals in Melbourne, adding to his brace in Suva. 

Australia (3-5-2)

PlayerNotesAgeClub
1 Jeff Olver27Melbourne Croatia
2 Alan Davidson 28Melbourne Croatia
3 Graham Jennings28Sydney Croatia
4 Charlie Yankos (c)27PAOK Thessaloniki
5 Gary van Egmond 14′23Footscray JUST
6 Garry McDowall29Brunswick United
7 Warren Spink22Footscray JUST
8 Jason Polaksub 58′20Sydney Olympic
9 Graham Arnold25Sydney Croatia
10 Oscar Crino26Footscray JUST
11 Scott Ollerenshaw 46′, sub 86′20St George
SUBSTITUTES
15 Paul Trimbolion 58′19South Melbourne
13 George Haniotison 86′22Sydney Olympic
Manager: Frank Arok

Fiji (5-3-2)

PlayerNotesAgeClub
1 Nasoni BuliLautoka
2 Abraham WatkinsNadroga
3 Pita Dau (c) 68′25Lautoka
4 Maretino NemaniSuva
5 Dan Lutumailagisub 78′Nadi
6 Lote DelaiBa
7 Meli VuilabasaBa
8 Vimal SamiBa
9 Ivor Evans 74′Vancouver 86ers
10 Simon PetersLabasa
11 Ravuama Madigisub 58′Ba
SUBSTITUTES
16 Shafiq Ali on 58′Nasinu
14 Jone Watisoni on 78′, 89′Tavua
x Tevita LasaqaSuva
x Ronald ChaudharyNasinu
x Ratu SulianoMatanitabua
Manager: Billy Singh

Tactical line-ups

Match report

First half

Macquarie Fields in Speers Point, in the outskirts of Newcastle, provided the backdrop for Australia’s attempt at progressing through to the group stage of the OFC section of the World Cup qualification. Obviously, plucky visitors Fiji were never going to lay down and surrender, and they had lined their team up in a very defensive 5-3-2 formation, making use of some really big, robust men to try and intimidate the opposition. Apparently (we’ve got no video evidence to back this up with), they’d rode their luck at times during the home leg, but if they could get the hosts out of their rhythm again, who knew what could happen.

Alan Davidson takes on Ivor Evans

Australia kicked the game into life, and they set their sight on attack immediately. As our tape from the game’s a 43 minutes cut version, and no on-screen clock is visible, we’ve got little time reference to proceedings other than what’s provided by the pair of Australian commentators (Mike Hill and his side-kick Les Murray, incidentally). What we can say for sure, though, is that the hosts push their wide players very high in the pitch, with Alan Davidson along the right and young Scott Ollerenshaw down the left working almost as a pair of customary wingers.

A closer look at the visitors

Defender Dan Lutumailagi, to the left of captain Pita Dau

For the away team, their wide players operate as outright full-backs, and while there appears to be some uncertainty as to who is actually positioned as their right-sided defender, there’s absolutely no doubt that the long-limbed Lote Delai, who had played a major role in their winning goal back home, is Fiji’s left-back. At various times, all of Abraham Watkins, Maretino Nemani and Dan Lutumailagi can be seen defending towards the right, though the latter does appear to be shadowing Australia striker Graham Arnold to the best of his ability. With Watkins also tucking into the centre, it would appear to be #4 Nemani working in the right-back position.

Meli Vuilabasa – expressed workrate, but also showed some calmness in possession

The order of Fiji’s midfield appearance is easier to identify. They have three men spread from right to left in Vimal Sami, Meli Vuilabasa and the tricky Ivor Evans. While Sami does appear to have the habit of tucking inside from his right-sided position, particularly when the home side are in possession (and they are a lot), surely to offer the hard-working Vuilabasa some numerical support, Evans continues to stay close to the touchline. He had expressed himself as something of a wing wizzard to an Australian audience back in 1985, when Fiji’s U20 side had played a World Cup qualifier in these shores. Again, he seemed more than capable of taking a man on and darting past him, and it is probably fair to say that Evans was the more competent of those few attack-minded players which the visitors had in their ranks.

Ravuama Madigi, with Simon Peters spotted in the background

While goalscorer from the home leg, Ravuama Madigi, had been given a starting role this time around, the striker did not feature very prominently in the sequences of footage which are available to us. He would appear to have some pace to burn, but he was also tracked fairly closely by Australia defender Gary van Egmond. His partner up front, Simon Peters, was of more powerful build, and also struggled to express himself freely. Midfield support was scarce, and Fiji’s major idea of attacking was down the left, through the impressively tall Delai, who certainly enjoyed coming forward in support of Evans.

Captain Pita Dau – a big presence for the visitors

Leading the Fijian team from the back was captain Pita Dau, whom we’re told is 25 years of age. Another player of impressive stature, Dau did not appear to have a designated player to follow around, but he would pop up here and there, and mainly sit at the heart of the defence. As could be expected, he was someone quite sound in aerial play, so the hosts’ principal idea must surely have been to make use of the pace which they had in the team. Among their more forward players, Ollerenshaw and striker Warren Spink seemed to be the two quickest.

Hosts open the scoring

No ‘keeper in the world would’ve stopped Yankos’ strike, Nasoni Buli no exception

No team defending can have a recipe beforehand against ‘worldies’. When Australia took the lead on nine minutes (we’re informed by commentator Hill), and so brought the aggregate scores level, it happened through a wonder strike by team captain Charlie Yankos. Playing his football in Europe, as the only one in this Socceroos select, the PAOK Thessaloniki defender, operating as the hosts’ spare man here, was played the ball short by Oscar Crino from the left-sided channel, and from nearly 30 yards Yankos connected first time with his right foot. He struck it perfectly, and the ball arched away from goalkeeper Nasoni Buli and whistled right into the top corner. Stunning goal.

Oz’ engine room

Jason Polak

The Australian midfield composition consisted of Garry McDowall in the more defensive among the three central roles. He did look quite a physical individual, and he was actually the first player to have an attempt at goal, although his effort from 25 yards went low to the left of the upright. Around him were Crino and young Jason Polak, the latter who was making his starting debut in a ‘full’ international fixture. Crino was often the go-to man, and he was equipped with fine vision and distribution, often looking for space into which he could hit the ball for the two strikers to run on to. Polak, quite delicate in his frame, did not feature heavily in the earlier sequences, something which seemed understandable in the circumstances: He might have felt nerves circulating in his 20 years young mind.

Socceroos double their advantage

Left-back Lote Delai about to hit a ‘try’

By the time the Australians score their inevitable second, we’ve seen Fiji a bit higher in the pitch, even arriving at a couple of dead ball situations in the shape of a 30 yard free-kick and a left wing corner respectively. Little comes off either, but at least they’d shown that they would try and seize on any chance to test the home side’s defensive frame. Defending had probably not so much been on Australian minds in the run-up to this fixture.

Spink for 2-0

Warren Spink, nicknamed ‘Sid’, capitalized on some disappointing defending by the visitors as he finished expertly with the outside of his right boot and to the left of the advancing goalkeeper 25 minutes in. Crino had done well to win a duel in midfield, and the ball fell nicely for Graham Arnold. He’d looked up and spotted Spink ahead of him in a pocket of space to his right, threading his forward partner through. Where was the Fijian defence? Delai was nowhere to be seen; he’d probably made forward strides, and was punished when they’d failed to win that midfield duel (Lutumailagi had lost out to Crino). Spink, a team mate of Crino’s and van Egmond’s at Footscray JUST, took his goal very well. Australia were ahead in the tie.

No sitting back from willing home side

A tad frustrated in front of goal: Graham Arnold

Despite a two goal cushion, Australia were far from done. They went forward continuously searching for further goals. They would come close a couple of times before the half-time break, as an Arnold effort from inside the area, after a cross by van Egmond from the left, saw the striker hit the top of the bar. The 25 year old Sydney Croatia man had gone no less than nine internationals without hitting the back of the net, although it was not from a lack of effort, at least on account of this game.

This left-footer from McDowall draws a one-handed save from Buli

Midfielder McDowall then struck a fierce left-footed drive from 25 yards which worked goalkeeper Buli, and Spink was probably unlucky not to pick up a penalty when he was bundled over by Nemani. Right upon the half-time whistle, Yankos was allowed to strike directly from a free-kick in just about the same range from where he’d scored the opener. Again, he hit it sweetly, although the goalkeeper could ultimately claim the ball, even after it had bounced awkwardly right in front of him. Arnold would’ve buried any rebound, as he was lurking just in front of the ‘keeper.

Flag-kick man: Scott Ollerenshaw

We do see some positional swaps between the Australian players during the footage from the first half, and perhaps most notable is how Polak moves into a wide left position, from which he swings in a couple of teasing crosses with his left foot. Ollerenshaw can be seen through the centre, and whether or not the hosts had temporarily switched to a 3-4-3 or even 3-3-4 formation, is difficult to determine due to the limited time frame of the video. In the final sequence of footage prior to half time, Ollerenshaw does indeed appear to be back on the left wing, with Polak more as an inside midfielder again.

Australia 2, Fiji 0. Half-time.

Second half

As we arrive for the start of the second half, there has been no substitutions in either camp, and it is the visiting Fiji team which gets the ball rolling for the final 45 minutes, through their two strikers Madigi, matchwinner in the first leg, and Peters.

Just a goal away from turning the tie on its head, the plucky Fijians still had everything to play for. They had been sitting back in the first half, allowing the Australians to come at them, but they would, at least at some point, attempt coming forward with more vigour in this second period, in order to achieve that necessary goal back.

As for the hosts, they had shown evidence during the first half that they were not content with a two goal lead, and so would they continue their search for an all-important third after the break? Or would they come back out now with a more measured approach?

Player substitutions

On for Madigi: Shafiq Ali

There’s apparently not a whole lot of interest happening in the early stages of the final 45, as one minute after the kick-off, we’re seeing a pair of substitutions in quick succession: First to come on is Fiji’s Shafiq Ali, wearing the number 16 shirt. He replaces Madigi, who had, according to the commentator, picked up a knock during the first half, and who, at least from viewing these clips, did not exert himself a great deal. Madigi had been nowhere near replicating his matchwinning goal from the previous fixture.

Paul Trimboli, anxiously waiting on the touchline as he’s about to replace Polak

Immediately after, there’s also a substitution for the hosts, as starting debutant Polak is replaced by an even younger player in 19 year old Paul Trimboli, yet another one to make his first ever international appearance at senior level. We had seen Polak often head out towards left-sided territory during the first half footage, and perhaps did he struggle somewhat with the physicality of the opposition? Trimboli did hardly appear to be of a much more bulky frame, so how would Arok accommodate him in the side?

In trying to work out the new order of appearance in the wake of the substitutions, it certainly does appear so that Evans has moved forward into a position up top alongside Peters, while the player who came on, Ali, slotted into the right hand side of midfield, where Sami had previously been. The latter had subsequently switched to the left, where Evans had featured until then. Still 5-3-2 it was.

As for the hosts, the next few clips would definitely reveal a very attacking nature from Trimboli. The teenager could be seen joining the waves of attack, probably as an attacking midfielder, and again, Ollerenshaw was often working towards the right hand side, rather than down the left hand touchline which had been his playground from the outset.

Further chances

Spink (7) offside from Ollerenshaw’s cross

In regards to opportunities, there’s a headed one from Spink, although from Ollerenshaw’s right wing cross he’s adjudged offside to his astonishment, even if the replay reveals how the linesman had been right. Then there’s a free-kick 35 yards out, with Crino standing over the ball. The Fijian player nearest, who appears to be Peters, does not wish to retreat the necessary ten yards, upon which the referee moves the ball back a couple of feet, rather than addressing the player in white and black. According to the commentators, an Australian player, they didn’t say who, had earlier been booked for something similar. When the set-piece’s eventually taken, it is hit into the area for van Egmond to head on, but his effort is a soft, looping one, all too comfortable for the goalkeeper to catch.

Spink looks to be brought down

If the pair of commentators are not entirely pleased with the New Zealand officials, their displeasure’s even taken up a notch when he next makes no penalty decision after Spink has gone to ground after what indeed appeared to be a foul by Watkins. The nippy forward had made his way into the area from the left-sided channel, and as he was about to dart past Watkins and make it to the byline, his path was blocked by the defender. Mr Wallace must have meant that there had been no contact. Play on.

Vuilabasa’s shot just over

There’s not much seen from the visitors as an attacking force either via this second half footage, though there’s an effort from distance by central midfielder Vuilabasa, some 23-24 yards out straight in front of goal, which goes close. Vuilabasa’s shot clears goalkeeper Olver’s bar by only a few inches, although it would seem as the custodian had it covered. Still, the look of anguish on the Fiji man’s face after the shot said it all: It had been the closest they’d come to clawing that hugely vital goal back.

Penalty awarded

Ollerenshaw is clipped by Delai for the spot-kick

The next clip would turn Vuilabasa’s despair into bitter disappointment, as the referee goes on to award Australia a penalty. There can be no debate about the decision, as the visitors’ left-back Delai clatters into Ollerenshaw, who has again arrived inside the area from the right hand side. Still, even if the penalty was about as blatant as it got, Fiji skipper Dau’s protests saw him rewarded with a yellow card. We learn in the process that it is the third away player to see yellow on the day, although we have no visuals and not even records of who the other two had been.

Yankos confidently slots home for 3-0

Charlie Yankos had not been seen coming forward too often in the footage which is available to us, although he’d stepped up for that pair of first half free-kicks, from which the first had yielded that sensational goal. Now, the Socceroos captain was tasked with the responsibility of increasing the hosts’ lead, and with the level of dominance which the home side had enjoyed, 3-0 would appear an almost unassailable advantage. Yankos stepped up and dispatched, right-footed, low to the ‘keeper’s right, with Buli wrong-footed and unable to move in the direction of the ball. It was the solid defender’s eighth goal in country colours. Surely, no way back for the visitors now? 

Delai, eager to make up for giving away the penalty, takes aim

The most recent goal had happened on 69 minutes, and next up is another chance for the visitors, although it is fair to say that Olver has Delai’s shot from the left edge of the penalty area well covered on his near post. The ‘keeper had come a few yards off his line to narrow the angle, and it had proved a good decision. Despite the ferocity in Delai’s drive, Australia’s goalkeeper had done well. Fiji had worked their way forward down the left, and Sami’s low cross had been poorly cleared by van Egmond, straight into Delai’s accepting feet.

Arnold’s turn

Arnold, fed by Trimboli (15), is about to pull the trigger for his goal

More skips in our tape, as Graham Arnold’s 4-0 is clocked in at 84 minutes. Since Yankos’ penalty, we’d only been served that most recent Delai effort, though we do have the entire build-up for this goal which would’ve meant a whole lot to striker Arnold personally. He had not scored since in a win against Chinese Taipei in qualification for the ’88 Olympics, but when played through by Trimboli and bursting into the area from the right hand channel, there appeared to be no shortage of confidence in his finish: A powerful, low and diagonal effort from his right boot which just kissed the upright on its way into the back of the net. It was his 20th for his country. While Trimboli had done well to assist on his debut, credit must also go to Crino, who had won a 50/50 challenge with Nemani halfway inside the Fijian half just prior. Tie over.

Substitutions

Again, pinpointing exact time for events proves impossible due to the shortage in footage, so we’ll have to rely on external sources which are saying that Fiji’s impressively bulky striker Jone Watisoni was brought on after 78 minutes of play. He’d started the first leg, and was here introduced for centre-back Lutumailagi. This was prior to Arnold’s goal, so a vague hope remained at the time for the visitors to claw their way back into the tie, and a solitary goal might just have caused some uneasiness throughout the Australian team.

George Haniotis comes on

As for the hosts, they opted to let big defender George Haniotis replace flying winger Ollerenshaw just after Arnold’s strike, perhaps with a view to containing Watisoni? The strapping young Sydney Olympic man certainly increased the muscle account across the Australian team, and his introduction also meant that the hosts proved how they were firmly lending one eye even to the future. No less than six of the 13 who had featured during the afternoon were aged 23 or younger. 

Another home goal

Trimboli is about to score Australia’s fifth on his debut

Despite a comfortable lead, the home side went in search for more, and it happened when Crino elegantly shielded the ball from Nemani some ten yards inside the Fijian half. He looked up and spotted Trimboli making a run through the right-sided channel, and the Argentina born ace’s pass was executed to perfection, leaving left-back Delai chasing shadows as the first Australian substitute of the afternoon was played in. The 19 year old burst into the area and fired low and diagonally into the back of the net for a replica of Arnold’s goal only minutes earlier for 5-0. It was turning into a rout. A goal and an assist, then, for Trimboli on his debut.

The brawl

The clock is approaching 90 minutes when an innocuous looking challenge from Davidson on Delai a few yards inside the Fijian half suddenly sees sparks fly. While Delai only makes a half-hearted attempt at pushing back at Davidson, it is Sami who next follows up with what looks like a punch in the Australian wide man’s direction, before substitute Watisoni approaches him and also lashes out, although neither caught him clean.

Yankos goes to ‘break it all up’ (his own words), but is confronted by Nemani, and to their right Sami and Delai. Van Egmond the other Australian

One of the Fijian players, it is difficult to say precisely who, probably Evans, darted off with the ball, setting his sight on goal, but behind him he was leaving a trail of brutality. There were ugly scenes as both sets of players raced in to join the melee, and fists were flying, most of them from the visitors’ players. Home skipper Yankos appears to try and have a word, but neither opponent is interested, and upon confronting Nemani, the hosts’ central defender takes a hit to the nose. Having said that, it is not possible to verify whether it was actually Nemani or substitute Ali or even Watisoni who struck him, but a bloody nose was nevertheless the unwanted outcome.

Watisoni has just chased down and lashed out at Davidson, who takes a backwards tumble to the ground

It was surreal to see several Fiji players raise their fists as if they were boxers in a ring, dancing and jumping around, and Watisoni continued to play the role of the lead aggressor, as he first tried to intimidate Davidson, getting into his face, with the Australian wisely retreating. Not that it deterred the big forward, as he opted to come after Davidson, lashing out again, something which had the home wide midfielder tumbling to the ground. Watisoni looked completely adrenaline-fuelled.

The referee had totally lost control, and looked around with despair in his eyes: “What the hell am I supposed to do here?” Some of the Fijian players were totally out of control, and there were disgraceful scenes which you’d never want to see on a football pitch. These were Singh’s words about his players in a much later report in the Australian Guardian: “Normally, if you hit one of our guys they hit back without even thinking. They don’t care about red cards or anything, they just keep punching and punching until the cops come and drag them off the ground. I don’t want them to do that, and I have told them they must be disciplined at all times.”

Fiji coach Billy Singh

Perhaps had they felt they deserved to get a little ‘something’ out of the game, something which they could brag about and say for posterity that ‘we were better than them at that, at least’. The Australian coaching staff came on to the pitch to try and take their players away, while Singh was urged on to the pitch by police officers, and finally he was telling his players to get back into their own half and try to focus on the remaining game time. The Fiji supremo was ushered back off the pitch by the same pair of policemen.

Watisoni ‘celebrates’ upon being issued his red card. To his right are Evans, Dau and (probably) Delai

Referee Wallace was stood next to the Fijian players, who by now, a minute and a half after the brawl kicked off, were huddled together in an attempt to gain energy from the crazy 90 seconds which had surely warranted at least two or three red cards. The referee can’t get through to the visiting players, and is unable to address them until they split up. He produces the first red card for Watisoni, who definitely had looked to be the chief provoker in the gang, but surely there was more to come. If the referee had identified the man who’d struck Yankos on the nose, that culprit, too, would have to walk.

Watisoni applauds sarcastically

Nope. No more. The referee walked away from the group of Fijians, and gathered his two linesmen, as the three of them were looking around in incredulity. There were clearly no intentions of further legal action to be taken. Watisoni had sarcastically applauded the referee’s decision to dismiss him, as if his deeds had not warranted the penalty. A red card in these circumstances made you feel like he got off the hook lightly.

FIFA representative Charlie Dempsey came on to chat with the officials

Charlie Dempsey, the president of the Oceania football confederation, and the FIFA representative at the game, 68 years old and a New Zealand citizen, also went across to the officiating trio, and next Mr Dempsey wanted the two captains to come together and discuss the matters. Yankos arrived with his bloody nose (which, it was later revealed, had been broken), while Dau, perhaps astounded by the sight of Yankos’ condition, almost had an apologetic expression. The FIFA rep had words with the pair of captains, perhaps to let them know that there was still a minute or two of football left to be played. And so it was, the game continued, around four and a half minutes after the skirmish had begun.

Visitors score

Delai scores

The ten men of Fiji would get a goal back a few minutes into injury time, and they’d even had an effort towards goal by Dau some 45 seconds prior to their strike, so they looked up for the game still, with the Australians just wanting the proceedings to come to an end. The left-footed Watkins has time and space inside the centre-circle to look up and lift a ball into space for Delai to run on to down the left hand channel, and with Davidson somewhat poorly positioned, the lanky left-back takes full advantage as he profits from the bounce of the ball to hit a crisp half-volley into the back of the net from inside the area. It was a lovely strike, but Olver would’ve been disappointed to have been beaten on his near post.

All over

Australia barely had time to restart the game before the referee blew his whistle one final time. The hosts had done what had been asked of them, and they’d done it comprehensively, even if the game had been marred by those late scenes of violence.

Full time: Australia 5, Fiji 1 (aggregate: 5-2).

Later quotes from The Guardian (Australia):

(about the brawl): “After another two goals in three minutes from Arnold and Paul Trimboli, it became a 5-0 blowout. But Fiji weren’t going down without a fight –literally. Annoyed that their hopes of progress were destroyed so comprehensively, the Fijians started throwing wild punches. Oscar Crino and Alan Davidson both copped one, but the biggest hit was reserved for Yankos, who had his nose broken by substitute Jone Watsioni. “They weren’t there to play football against us,” Yankos said. “Alan Davidson was in a scuffle with some of the players and I was just being the typical, nice captain, going in to break it all up. I can’t remember how much longer there was to go – only a couple of minutes – but one of the players just came up and hit me from behind, a round-arm. He smashed me – a king hit, from behind, wrapped around the back of my head.” Ollerenshaw was benched by this stage, and was watching the carnage unfold from the sidelines. “It was a bit like a State of Origin game,” he said. “From memory, George Haniotis was outstanding in the brawl. That was one of George’s few appearances for the Socceroos and I remember he was involved. As I was watching it, I really wasn’t that upset about being on the bench.”

(from one of the Fijian defenders’ perspective): “Watkins laughs when he retells the story, remembering that Watsioni unleashed on Yankos out of pure frustration. “He thought it was a boxing ring,” he said. “We weren’t mentally prepared. When they play dirty, they spit on you in the tunnel and talk like that and everything… we can’t take it. They make us angry. Fiji players, we have short tempers. We used to be big, tall guys. So he just gave him a good shot, and he was down and got a red card.” Yankos somehow played on but was taken to hospital straight after the match. Watsioni saluted the crowd like a champion heavyweight when he was given his marching orders. The Fijians scored a consolation goal with a minute of regulation time remaining, and then went out with the Socceroos for post-game drinks. “It comes back to the chance they had, all that hope, it was lost,” Yankos said. “They got agitated. How many opportunities do you really get to beat someone – you beat them at home, and then all of a sudden it crumbles at the other end? It was a bit of a shame that it ended up that way because they did quite well in the first game. They didn’t do it with dignity at the end, just pure fighting.”

Player ratings

We choose not to offer individual player verdicts for this game, as the timeline of the footage is difficult to suss out properly, and also due to its length: Nearly 44 minutes in total, but the violence towards the end took up about five minutes, and then there was the Frank Arok interview post-match as well. 

Delai’s strike from another angle

It is fair to say, though, that some players give positive accounts of themselves, and Oscar Crino, Warren Spink and substitute Paul Trimboli certainly do so for the hosts, while Fiji’s goalscorer Lote Delai is often seen contributing in a forward capacity from his left-back position. Meli Vuilabasa, who had scored against Australia in a 4-1 home loss in qualification for the 1982 World Cup, was another player lending a favourable impression, looking assured on the ball. 

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