Lautoka remains on track in the 2023 Digicel Fiji FACT after posting a 4-2 win over Navua in their second Group A match at the HFC Bank Stadium in Suva today.
The Blues entered the match with a lot of confidence after toppling defending champions and hosts Suva 1-0 yesterday while Navua looked to make amends from its 2-1 loss to Ba.
Navua nearly got the opener in the fourth minute through nippy midfielder Sunny Deol but his shot went far right of an empty goalmouth.
The Hypercam Pharmacy sponsored Lautoka fielded Manasa Nawakula in place of Epeli Leiroti in defence. Leiroti was sent off against Suva.
National marksman Sairusi Nalaubu headed the opener for the Blues from a Afraz Ali corner kick in the 33rd minute after seeing Navua goalie Viliame Rakuro off his guard.
A few minutes later, match official Suraj Prakash flashed a yellow card to Nawakula for an intentional foul on Navua’s Arami Manumanubhai.
Lautoka led by 1-0 at the breather.
The Ronil Kumar coached Lautoka came out firing in the second half while errors forced Navua to give away more opportunities to the opponents.
Sitiveni Cavuilagi doubled the lead for Lautoka in the 46th minute after a power play with Nalaubu and Saula Waqa.
Two minutes later, Lautoka was awarded a penalty after Ilimotama Jese was fouled inside the box and Captain Zibraaz Sahib made no mistake with his attempt, sending Rakuro in the wrong direction.
Navua made three consecutive changes fielding in Simione Damuni, Isake Naduvu and Suliano Doli in place of Fiji Under 20 Captain Thomas Dunn, Mannav Permal and Melvin Mani to add more depth to their attack.
On the other hand, Nigerian Usman Omede and Antonio Tuivuna replaced Waqa and goalscorer Sitiveni Cavuilagi for Lautoka.
Replacement Doli pulled one back for Navua in the 56th minute from a Solomon Islander Jared Rongosulia and Vinal Prasad set piece play.
Navua continued to add fresh legs on the field with Alfred Ali replacing hard working Deol in the 75th minute.
Both teams kept on a strong battle and Navua secured a penalty after Naduvu was brought down in the penalty box.
Rongosulia powered the shot into the net to narrow the scoreline but the Blues ensured they finished on a high with Aporosa Yada netting their fourth goal just a minute after in the 80th minute.
With 6 points already in the bag, Lautoka will need just a draw in its last group match against Ba to seal its spot in the semifinals.
Rivertubing Fiji / Koromakawa Rentals and Tours Navua FC: Viliame Rakuro (GK), Sunny Deol, Thomas Dunn (Suliano Doli), Arami Manumanubhai, Brian Charitar, Jared Rongosulia, Mannav Permal (Isake Naduvu), Vinal Prasad, Melvin Mani (Simione Damuni), Zainal Ali, Mathew Charitar (C).
Reserves: Jerry Naitani, Mohammed Ledua, David Prasad, Samir Hussain, Joseph Elder, Mosese Balenagaga, Elvin Chand, Alfred Ali.
Hyperchem Pharmacy Lautoka FC: Senirusi Bokini (GK), Zibraaz Sahib, Afraz Ali, Sitiveni Cavuilagi (Atonio Tuivuna), Aporosa Yada, Manasa Nawakula, Ilimotama Jese, Kishan Sami, Sairusi Nalaubu, Saula Waqa (Usman Omede), Sakaraia Naisua.
Reserves: Epeli Vunibola, Joela Biuvanua, Maciu Tuinuku, Isimeli Gavidi, Marika Rawasoi, Sterling Vasconcellous, Poasa Bainivalu.