January 12, 2018
A 9-man Labasa outfit won its third Champion vs Champion title after beating defending champion Lautoka 1-0 at Churchill Park tonight.
Captain Antonio Tuivuna headed in the winner for the Babasiga Lions in the 60th minute from a counter-attacking move.
The first half was equally matched as both teams displayed constructive football and shared some good scoring opportunities.
Lautoka started the match without star midfielder Zibraaz Sahib who pulled a hamstring during training and was rested for the second half.
The Blues applied more pressure towards the end of the half but brilliant goalkeeping by Akuila Mateisuva denied them two good scoring chances.
The Northerners entered the second half with more determination and their ploy to send long through passes to the attackers worked well with Tuivuna overlapping and netting the winner as the Lautoka defence stood ball watching.
Labasa lost two players in a space of 15 minutes and had to defend with only nine players on the field.
Left back Ilisoni Logaivou and striker Ashnil Raju were sent off by referee Neeshil Varman following their second booking of the match.
Veteran Taniela Waqa fell back in defence from midfield to bolster Labasa’s defence and his leadership combined with excellent goalkeeping by Mateisuva kept the scores intact till the final whistle.
The Bal Sanju Reddy coached side returns home $5000 richer while Lautoka received $2500 for its efforts in the Pillay Garments sponsored two legged CVC series.
Lautoka- Beniamino Mateinaqara, Jone Vesikula (C) (Zibraaz Sahib), Iliesa Lino, Kolinio Sivoki, Kavaia Rawaqa, Dave Radrigai, Siotame Kubu (Osea Vakatalesau), Christopher Wasasala, Peni Finau, Samuela Drudru (Mohammed Shazil).
Labasa- Akuila Mateisuva, Antonio Tuivuna (C), Jale Dreloa, Lekima Gonerau, Ilisoni Loloivalu, Ilisoni Logaivou, Sitiveni Rakai (Ilaisa Nayasi), Taniela Waqa, Amani Makoe (Thomas Steiner), Ratu Apenisa Anare (Manasa Levaci), Ashnil Raju
By Reginald Chandar