May 06, 2018
Ba staged a strong second half comeback to hold leaders Suva to a 2-2 draw in the top of the table clash of the Vodafone Premier League at Ratu Cakobau Park in Nausori today.
Suva made a strong start to the match and went ahead in the 3rd minute after Waisake Navunigasau headed in a Kelvin Naidu corner kick.
Naidu then scored a stunning goal from the edge of the box in the 33rd minute to double Suva’s advantage heading into the halftime break.
Ba lifted its game in the second half and applied some good pressure.
Both teams were reduced to 10 players each in the 62nd minute after Naidu and Ba defender Manasa Nawakula were sent off for violent conduct following a scuffle in an off-the-ball incident.
Seasoned midfielder Malakai Tiwa pulled one back for the Men In Black from a free-kick rebound in the 83rd minute.
Nippy midfielder Meli Codro levelled the scores in the 87th minute from an acute angle which took a deflection off a Suva defender and landed into the back of the net giving goalie Simione Tamanisau no choice at all.
Suva Coach Tuka Tisam said the red card in second half affected their game and put more pressure on his defenders.
“It was quite a competitive game and we played well but the red card incident spoiled our game. We had our fair share of chances and should have won. We need to work harder in our upcoming matches,” he said.
Ba Manager Arvin Singh saluted the fighting spirit of his players.
“The boys stuck their heads together until the final whistle and played till the end. Ba is a team that should not be counted out until the end and my players showed that today. We were down by two goals but did not get scared by that and came out strongly to draw the game.”
“I thank my players for their wonderful effort. Two players- Kini Mocelutu Junior and Simione Nabenu got their big break today and I am really happy with their performance. We believe in giving a break to young players and these two boys surely have a bright future ahead of them.”
The result sees Suva retain its top status on the VPL standing. The Whites now have 11 points after playing 6 matches while Ba has 10 points after 5 matches.
Suva- Simione Tamanisau (C), Madhavan Goundar, Epeli Leiroti, Waisake Navunigasau, Filipe Baravilala, Shahil Dave, Kelvin Naidu, Kaliova Tivulu (Emori Ragata), Bruce Hughes, Ravinesh Karan Singh, Tevita Waranaivalu (Savenaca Nakalevu).
Ba- Misiwani Nairube, Avinesh Swamy, Manasa Nawakula, Meli Codro, Shivneel Singh (Kini Mocelutu) , Laisenia Raura, Malakai Tiwa, Abbu Zahid, Sitiveni Cavuilagi (C), Amena Bola (Simione Nabenu), Saula Waqa.
By Reginald Chandar