February 26, 2017
Two goals in a space of 12 minutes saw newcomers Rakiraki register a loss against Rewa in their first Vodafone Premier League outing at Ratu Cakobau Park in Nausori today.
Rakiraki managed to pull a good crowd for the match which commenced after a little delay.
The teams observed a minute of silence in the memory of Rakiraki striker Ratnesh Karan Singh who died earlier in the week.
The Delta Tigers with the inclusion of Samuela Kautoga, Madhavan Goundar and Vuniuci Tikomaimereke started the match attacking and went up in the 7th minute when Captain Amani Makoe blasted in a free-kick from the edge of the box.
Newly signed former Suva midfielder Goundar who ironically hails from Rakiraki scored the seconds goal five minutes later with a beautiful in-step attempt as the defence made a blunder while clearing the ball away from a Rewa free kick.
Rakiraki came close to scoring via a Joseph Elder free-kick in the 24th minute but the powerhouse attempt was saved daringly by veteran goalie Simione Tamanisau.
Lorima Dau missed a golden chance for the hosts in the 34th minute as he had an empty goal-mouth to place the ball into but fumbled the opportunity.
Rewa led 2-0 at halftime and failed to score any further goals in the second half despite having more possession and opportunities.
Rakiraki goalkeeper Saimoni Naibogi made more than a dozen saves and kept the fans entertained with mid-air takes and diving skills while strikers Kartik Kumar and Zainal Hussein also put up a good show upfront and at times pressured their much experienced opponents.
Ronald Lawrence and Salesh Sami Bula were introduced by Rakiraki in the second half but their inclusion did not make much difference as the pair was heavily marked.
Rewa’s Technical Advisor Gurjit Singh who guided the team in the absence of Coach Marika Rodu said his players missed a lot of opportunities and they will need to improve on their scoring before the OFC Champions League.
“We should have scored more goals in the second half as we had so many chances. The boys played a bit casually at times and looked tired. We need a good rest before the Champions League. Overall we are happy with the result and I thank Rakiraki for giving us a good game,” he said.
Rakiraki Coach Pragdish Goundar was pleased with the gallant display by his players and said they would get better as they play more big games.
“We really improved our game in the second half and I think the two early goals let us down. This was our first game of the season and the players are still trying to blend together as a team. We are happy with our performance today and we will work on our mistakes and come out stronger in the next game.”
Rewa now leads the Vodafone Premier League points table with 6 points after 2 matches and will head out of the country for the OFC Champions League in Tahiti on Tuesday while Rakiraki is expected to play Dreketi and Labasa in the next round.
Rewa- Simione Tamanisau, Lorima Dau, Vuniuci Tikomaimereke, Peniame Drova, Mitieli Namuka, Amani Makoe (C), Tevita Waranaivalu (Taione Kerevanua), Madhavan Goundar, Josateki Tamudu, Samuela Kautoga (Savenaca Nakalevu), Epeli Saukuru.
Rakiraki- Saimoni Naibogi, Nimilote Amini, Joseph Elder, Akei Uluibau, Madre Varan, Asaeli Cobuta (C), Kartik Kumar (Ronald Lawrence), Ratu Sakiusa (Salesh Sami Bula), Jale Vota, Shekhar Reddy, Zainal Hussein.
Referee: Deepak Mudaliar
Crowd: More than 300
By Reginald Chandar