Nippy marksman Brian Charitar headed a second half winner as Navua registered a 1-0 upset win over a star-studded Suva outfit in the second semifinal of the 2023 Rooster Chicken/Scoops Ice cream Battle of the Giants at the HFC Bank Stadium tonight.
The Saiyad Ali coached side looked determined from the opening whistle and did not panic at all against their more superior and highly fancied opponents.
Solomon Islander Jackson Wale missed two early sitters for Navua while Captain Samuela Drudru, Ni-Vanuatu attacker Azariah Soromon missed a couple of good chances.
Hardworking attacker Thomas Dunn who put on a Man of the Match performance for Navua and created chance after chance was booked by referee Neeshil Varman towards the end of the first spell for a deliberate dive in the Suva box.
The teams rested 0-0 at halftime and after a couple of set-pieces, Navua launched an attacking move which saw Filipe Baravilala foul Dunn and give away a free-kick.
Solomon Islander Jared Rongosulia beautifully took the free-kick which found Dunn who sent a perfect delivery to Charitar to head in the winner.
Suva Coach Babs Khan sent in Merrill Nand, Bruce Hughes, Rusiate Matarerega and Alex Saniel to keep the pressure on Navua but the brilliance of goalkeeper Viliame Rakuro and prowess of Arami Manumanubai, Matthew Charitar and Kolinio Sivoki in defence saw Navua sustain all the pressure till the final whistle.
Southern Forest Navua will now meet defending champions, Extra Supermarket Labasa in the grand finale at 3pm tomorrow.
The starting teams:
Suva– Akuila Mateisuva, Meli Codro, Inoke Turagalailai, Remueru Tekiate, Dave Radrigai, Marlon Tahioa, Joeli Ranitu, Azariah Soromon, Samuela Drudru (C), Kavaia Rawaqa, Filipe Baravilala.
Navua– Viliame Rakuro, Jared Rongosulia, Thomas Dunn, Arami Manumanubai, Brian Charitar, Jackson Wale, Vineet Chand, Alfred Ali, Zainal Ali, Matthew Charitar (C), Kolinio Sivoki.