Rising young Bonnyrigg White Eagles star Abdullah Aiyas will join the Fijian Under 19 football team next July as the Pacific Islanders hope to qualify for the FIFA Under 20 World Cup in 2023 which will be held in neighbouring Indonesia.
The versatile player, whose preferred position is in midfield, has been lighting up the pitches in the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s U20’s competition this year with the White Eagles.
For Abdullah, it’s a dream come true to be selected for the Fijian national team.
“I’m born and bred in Sydney but my family’s descendants are from the beautiful islands of Fiji and to represent such heritage at the highest level is truly a honour and dream come true,” he said.
“I couldn’t be more privileged and grateful of this honour bestowed upon me and I am proud to come from a Fijian heritage.
“All thanks to the almighty god for this opportunity.”
Turning 18 in September, Abdullah has been a part of the White Eagles through all of his teen years and has finally cracked senior football.
“I’ve been a part of Bonnyrigg White Eagles since 2014. I’ve played in every age group in the youth system ranging from under 12s through to the 18s and have captained from 13s till 18s,” Abdullah said.
“Now I’ve moved up to senior football and constantly playing for the under 20s team.”
The young man stated he owes a lot to the system at Bonnyrigg and the coaches that have helped him realise his potential.
“Bonnyrigg have been my stepping stool to me achieving success in football and have played a huge part in me being called up for the under 20s Fiji national team,” he said.
“The club have supported me throughout the way both on and off the football pitch, I owe them a big thanks.”
Abdullah puts down his success to the hard work he puts in both on and off the pitch as well as his strong family foundations.
“Talent wise I was never the top player whether technically, physically or mentally but I have worked twice as hard to get where I am today. At one stage I was training 8 times a week, training at 5am, back by 7, shower, eat and school. It was never pleasing but like Mohammed Ali said work now enjoy later.
“I faced many setbacks but hard work always prevail and it’s the no days off policy laid down by my father that enabled my mind and body to work hard.”
Abdullah had been excelling at Bonnyrigg Sports Ground and his performances hadn’t gone unnoticed by the Fijian national team scouts.
“Through my performances for Bonnyrigg, I was on the Fiji national team radar since 2019 for the under 16s national team. It wasn’t until my full debut at 17 via the All age Fijian tournaments held here in Sydney that we won that I caught the eye of the Fijian managers.
“What guaranteed my selection in the team for the under 20 national team was the exceptional form of the under 18s Bonnyrigg White Eagles and the part I played in it whilst also contributing to the under 20s on a weekly basis with my performances.”
Qualifiers are played in a competition format such as the 2022 OFC U-19 Championship.
It will be hosted in Samoa and the tournament will commence in July 2022.
Fiji has never qualified for a senior World Cup but has one appearance at Under 20 level, not too long ago in 2014 and now, Abdullah will be hoping his peers can make it two.
“With the strong Fijian talent coming up in not only Australia but the world, I truly believe in the future we, Fiji as a whole can qualify for the World Cup.
“But for now my expectation is to help the Under 20 Fiji national team qualify for the under 20 World Cup because I truly believe we can.”
By Nikola Pozder