October 09, 2018
A strong second half comeback by defending champion Lautoka saw them beat Nadi 3-1 in the second semifinal of the 2018 Courts Inter District Championship (IDC) at the ANZ Stadium in Suva today.
The Jetsetters made an impressive start and took the lead in the 24th minute as Rusiate Matarerega took full advantage of a goalkeeper blunder to slot in the opener.
Nadi led 1-0 at the break but lost Matarerega to a serious injury early in the second half.
A defensive blunder by Nadi from a free-kick saw Lautoka equalise in the 52nd minute with Benjamin Totori getting the credit for the goal.
Veteran defender Jone Vesikula slammed in the second goal two minutes later, yet from another blunder as the defence could clear away from a free-kick.
Totori scored Lautoka's third goal after beautifully beating the goalkeeper and placing the ball into an empty goal mouth in the 58th minute.
Nadi pulled out imports Horrace James and Imraan Shah and sent in youngsters Peni Tuigulagula and Sailosi Rayoqona to keep the pressure on but Lautoka kept its defence and midfield strong and dominated the last quarter of the match .
Coach Kamal Swamy said the fighting spirit of his players was commendable and he knew they would come out strongly in the second half.
"We were down at halftime and I told my players to keep pressing and the goals will come. When we got the first goal, the players got very hungry to score more and having a player like Benji (Totori) on the field really helps because he uses his experience very well to guide the players. He is an amazing player and he has been outstanding in this tournament," said Swamy.
Lautoka will meet the winner of the Labasa vs Suva semifinal in the grand finale at 3pm tomorrow.
By Reginald Chandar