August 28, 2016
Labasa outclassed arch rivals Ba 4-0 in the last group match of the 2016 INKK Mobile Battle Of Giants at Ratu Cakobau Park in Nausori today to seal its spot in the semifinals.
The deciding match of Group B proved to be interesting and exciting as Labasa only needed a draw while Ba had to win.
Ba made a few tactical changes and introduced goalkeeper Josaia Ratu for the first time in the tournament while Shameel Rao and Samuela Nabenia paired upfront.
Stylish striker Gabriel Matanisiga netted his fifth goal of the tournament and Labasa’s first in the 16th minute with a beautiful header from a Edwin Sahayam corner-kick which was completely misjudged by the Ba defence.
And striker Ravinesh Karan Singh doubled Labasa’s lead ten minutes later, again taking full advantage of a poor clearance and punishing the Men In Black with a powerful strike.
Labasa led 2-0 at the break and continued to dominate the second half.
Ba introduced Maveliko Nakama and shifted Captain Samuela Kautoga upfront but the pair failed to ignite much spark in the attack and was well contained by the Babasiga Lions defence led by the evergreen Taniela Waqa.
Christopher Wasasala walked past two defenders and slammed in Labasa’s third goal in the 60th minute and lanky defender Leone Damudamu headed in a Sahayam corner in the 87th minute to seal the big victory.
Labasa finishes second behind Lautoka in Group B and will meet Group A winner Suva in the first semifinal on Saturday while Lautoka will face defending champions Rewa in the second semifinal.
Ba- Josaia Ratu, Avinesh Waran Suwamy, Manasa Nawakula, Praneel Naidu, Samuela Nabenia, Alvin Singh, Samuela Kautoga (C ), Shameel Rao, Malakai Tiwa, Junior Nadrendra Rao, Laisenia Raura
Labasa- Akuila Mateisuva (C), Edwin Sahayam, Christopher Wasalasala, Ravinesh Karan Singh, Manasa Levaci, Ratu Anare, Gabrieli Matanisiga, Ilisoni Logaivou, Ilisoni Lolaivalu, Taniela Waqa, Leone Damudamu
By Reginald Chandar