July 22, 2012
Defending Battle Of Giants champion Rewa sucummbed under pressure at Subrail Park today and went down to Round 1 hosts Labasa 2-0.
The Babasiga Lions laced with host of experienced players and backed up 9000+ crowd entered the match with the favourites tag and played with a lot of passion and commitment.
Rewa on the other hand did not field James Naka as they failed to obtain his International Transfer Certificate on time and the Delta Tigers also did not have the best cover under the sticks and fielded former Suva reserve goalie Imtiaz Khan.
Labasa started the match attacking and a foul inside the Rewa box by Peniame Drova on Taione Kerevanua prompted the match referee Rakesh Varman to award the hosts a penalty in the 10th minute.
National marksman and hometown hero Maciu Dunadamu did not make any mistake with his attempt and gave Labasa a 1-0 lead.
Papua New Guineans Kema Jack and Wira Wama adapted well to coach Epeli Levaci's game structure and blended in well with the rest of the Labasa players, playing short and crisp passes.
Rewa's imports; Abraham Iniga and Robert Tasso looked dangerous at times on attack but the duo did not get quality passes from midfield and Naka's absence was surely felt.
Labasa led 1-0 at the break and managed to score its second goal in the 72nd minute through Jack as neatly finished off a well orchestered midfield move initated by Pita Bolaitoga and backed up by Dunadamu.
Kerevanua was the man of the match as his vision and the ability to make timely decisions from the middle worked to Labasa's advantage.
Levaci was on cloud nine after the final whistle and saluted his players for giving their best and sending the fans home happy.
"The boys threw everything in the game and the presence of the fans inspired the boys and brought out the best from them," he said.
"It was a tough match and I thank the lord for his blessing on the team. Rewa played very well but we took our options well and scored goals that mattered."
"This win is for all the people of Labasa, those that were here, those in Viti Levu as well as those who have been supporting us from overseas," he added.
Rewa manager Lawrence Nath said it was not their day on the field and congratulated Labasa for its win.
"Luck was surely not on our side as we had created chances but could not score goals," he said.
"We definitely missed Naka and had he been in the team then surely it would have been a different story. Nevertheless, we have more games to play and will try to bounce back and win."
Labasa’s next opponent will be Nadroga on Thursday at 4.00pm while Rewa will face giants Ba at 6.30pm at Churchill Park.
Rewa - Imtiaz Khan, Lorima Dau ( Captain) Misaele Draunibaka, Abrham Iniga, Epeli Saukuru, Maika Waqa, Leone Vurukania, Akash Sharma, Kelepi Qaqa, Robert Tasso, Peniame Drova.