July 20, 2018
Host Lautoka had to fight tooth and nail to beat a determined and plucky Tavua outfit 1-0 in their opening Group B fixture of the 2018 INKK Mobile Battle Of Giants (BOG) at Churchill Park tonight.
Striker Samuela Drudru scored the winner for the Blues in the 81st minute.
The first half proved to be an interesting affair as Tavua launched a couple of good attacks on goal while Drudru hit the post with his attempt from out-wide for the hosts.
Prolific striker Benjamin Totori was well marked and was not allowed much space to break through and take shots on goal.
After resting 0-0 at halftime, both teams started the second spell with a lot of determination and the hunt for the winner.
Tavua managed to find the back of the net in the 72nd minute but the goal was disallowed as the scorer Apenisa Livanalagi was in an off-side position.
Lautoka Coach Kamal Swamy made a couple of changes in the forwards and one such replacement was lanky Osea Vakatalesau who was heavily involved in the setting up of the winner.
Tavua lost goalkeeper Jovilisi Borisi through a wrist injury and his replacement Ratu Halstead played well in the dying stages and denied Lautoka the opportunity to further increase its lead.
Coach Swamy was a relieved man after the match and said they were expecting Tavua to take them to the wire.
“This is an important win for us and I knew it was going to be a tough encounter as Tavua held us to draws in our last two matches.”
“We had to play organized football to counter them and I think we picked up our game in the last 20 minutes. This was not the best performance but a win is a win and we have to look at our mistakes and prepare a little better for the next match tomorrow,” he said.
Tavua Coach Saroj Kumar said they played gallantly and should have scored a couple of goals.
“I am proud of my players as they played very well. We matched Lautoka in all aspects of the game but were just unfortunate not to score.”
“We still have two matches to play and will try to come out stronger and better. I am also hoping that the injury to our goalkeeper is not a serious one because losing him will be a big blow to the team.”
Lautoka plays Labasa in its next match at 6pm tomorrow while Tavua will take on neighbors Ba at 2pm.
Lautoka- Beniamino Mateinaqara, Kolinio Sivoki (C),Praneel Naidu, Zibraaz Sahib, Shazil Ali, Jone Vesikula, Dave Radrigai, Kavaia Rawaqa, Benjamin Totori, Edward Justin, Samuela Drudru.
Tavua- Jovilisi Borisi, Sumeet Goundar, Mosim Khan, Kasim Khan, Semi Vakatalai (C), Aporosa Balei, Nemani Wainiqolo, Vilive Naulalevu, Vilitati Kautoga, Savenaca Adronu, Hussaini Khan.
Referee: Kavitesh Behari
By Reginald Chandar