THEY went in determined to win and win they did.
"Losing was not an option," a jubilant coach Hector Smith revealed yesterday after the Fiji men's team stunned favourites Australia Country 3-1 at the National Hockey Centre in Laucala.
That's what he had told his men going into this crucial Oceania Pacific Cup and FIH World League fixture.
"The coaching side of things was done and it was on them (the players) keeping their mental toughness," Smith revealed.
Adrian Smith, Leevan Dutta and skipper Hector Smith Jr were the heroes netting the goals in the penalty strokes victory after both teams were locked 1-all at full-time with Terrence Corrie scoring for Fiji.
Fiji now plays Samoa and Vanuatu and is guaranteed a spot in the finals where they could come up against the Australians again depending on the result of the Australia Country-New Zealand Maori match this morning.
"I was very happy with the character (of the players) and their will to go all the way and win," Smith Sr said.
However, he wants his side to improve on their discipline.
"We had three sending offs, something we have to avoid going into our other games."
Goalkeeper Richard Eyre was the hero, saving two Australian attempts. Fiji also won over Papua New Guinea and the New Zealand Maori. The Kiwis were also beaten on penalty strokes (5-4) as the new IHF rules states that if both sides come to a draw at full-time, a penalty shootout will take place. Both the Fiji men's and women's teams look set for the finals. The FIH World League medal play-offs will be held on Friday and the OPC on Saturday.
"We will just stick to our policy, get the technical side of things right and make sure we play each game with the same hunger and will to win regardless of the opposition," Smith said.
The winning teams in both sections will get to play in World League Round Two in India and Fiji looks in good stead to join Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Chile, Egypt, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Scotland, Trinidad & Tobago, Ukraine and the US (men's) and Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Italy, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Russia, Scotland, Trinidad & Tobago, Ukraine and Uruguay (women's) in round two of the competition.
Yesterday's results: New Zealand Maori 16 Vanuatu 0 (w); New Zealand 7 Papua New Guinea 2 (m); Australia Country 12 Samoa 0 (w); Fiji 3 Australia Country 1 (men's penalty strokes).
Today's draws: 8am, NZ Maori-Australian Country (m); 10, Samoa-NZ Maori (w); 12, P