Sunday, May 26, 2024
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Comet system puts Labasa into semis

Labasa staged a come from behind fighback to defeat Ba 2-1 in their crucial Group B match of the Battle of the Giants Tournament at Prince Charles Park in Nadi this afternoon.

The win has seen the Lions advance into the semifinal of the tournament despite tied at two goals apiece with Rewa, which also had six points.

This after Fiji FA used their comet system to determine the winner through fair play which saw Rewa players copping 11 yellow cards while Labasa had five yellow cards and one red card and as a result, they qualify into the semi final stage.

As per rules and regulations, both side started the postponed match of Day One with the same line-up and from the time the match was postponed due to power outage.

The football giants Ba led by Praneel Naidu was bolstered by the return of the Fiji Under 23 reps from the OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifier in New Zealand.

In the opening half, Labasa received five corner kicks which were taken by Edwin Sahayam and Ilaisa Vulimainavuco respectively but the heavy Ba defence wall cleared the ball away and goalkeeper Atunaisa Naucukidi also tipped outside a few shorts.

Lanky striker and Fiji Under 23 skipper Etonia Dogalau opened the account for the Men-In-Black in the 32nd minute after beautifully receiving a long cross from Nabil Begg and slamming the ball past experienced Labasa goalkeeper Simione Tamanisau.

Soon after, match official Neeshil Varman held the match for a few minutes as Labasa’s Iliesa Lino needed medical attention.

No later, newly appointed interim coach Labasa coach Imtiaz Khan opted to replace Lino with Sekove Naivakananumi to avoid further damage to the side.

In the 44th minute, an alerted Verman denied a goal by Christopher Wasasala after he was caught in an offside position.

Ba led by 1-0 at the breather.

Some stern prep talk by coach Khan saw the northerners lift up their performance in the second half threatening the Ba goalmouth through Ilaisa Vulimainavuso, Wasasala, Ilisoni Lolaivalu and Ashnil Raju.

Labasa ran in two quick changes with Veteran Taniela Waqa and Rusiate Doidoi taking the field to add more depth to their midfield replacing Josefa Raqamu and Lekima Gonerau.

Supersub Doidoi headed in the equaliser for Labasa after connecting perfectly with a Sahayam corner kick in the 64th minute.

A few minutes later, match official flashed a yellow card to Wasasala for an intentional foul play on Ba’s Malakai Rere.

Sahayam doubled the lead for Labasa in the 88th minute with a powerhouse attempt which gave goalkeeper Naucukidi no chance whatsoever at all.

A minute later, Doidoi brought the Labasa bench players to their feet with a goal but their joy was cut short when the linesman held his flag high finding Doidoi in an offside position.

Labasa qualifies as the Group B runner up alongside group leaders Suva.

The teams:

Labasa: Simione Tamanisau (GK) (C), Lino Iliesa (Sekove Naivakananumi), Edwin Sahayam, Ilaisa Vulimainavuso, Christopher Wasasala, Ilisoni Lolaivalu, Ashnil Raju, Akeimi Ralulu, Luke Savu (Taniela Waqa), Josua Raqamu, Lekima Gonerau (Rusiate Doidoi).

Ba: Atunaisa Naucukidi (GK), Praneel Naidu (C), Rahul naresh, Darold Kakasi, Sailasa Ratu, Nabil Begg, Ratu Apenisa Anare, Samuela Navoce, Suliano Tawanikoro, Etonia Dogalau, Carlos Raffa.

Romeka Romena
Romeka Romena
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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