Saturday, March 2, 2024
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Nabenia saves the day for Rewa

Super-sub Samuela Nabenia scored a last gasp goal as Rewa held Suva to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the OFC Champions League national playoff at the HFC Bank Stadium tonight.

Ni-Vanuatu striker Azariah Soromon put the Whites ahead in the 61st minute with a perfect low shot which gave veteran goalkeeper Emori Ragata no chance at all.

Rewa toiled hard and Nabenia, who went in place of Josaia Sela got the equalizer deep in additional time.

The match started under wet and slippery conditions with both teams finding it hard to settle and play constructive football.

Soromon had the first shot at goal in the 14th minute but Ragata daringly made an acrobatic save to deny him.

Suva goalkeeper Akuila Mateisuva made a fine save on the other end of the field in the 34th minute after a well curled Ivan Kumar cross was met with an Abbu Zahid well-timed header which forced Mateisuva to put his body on the line for the block.

The teams rested 0-0 at halftime.

Coach Marika Rodu introduced Nabenia and Iosefo Verevou upfront while Rusiate Matarerega, Merrill Nand and Bruce Hughes went on as impact players for Suva.

The option to push more players in defence towards the end of the encounter proved costly for Suva as Rewa had more space to create chances and set-up their attackers.

And just when it seemed that the hosts had three points in the bag, a nice buildup from Rewa saw Nabenia find the target.

Rams Cleaning Services /All Freight Logistics Suva and Design Marine Services Rewa will have all to play for in the second and final leg of the playoff on Sunday.

The teams:

Suva– Akuila Mateisuva, Simione Nabenu, Meli Codro, Inoke Turagalailai, Remueru Tekiate, Dave Radrigai, Malakai Rakula (Rusiate Matererega), Marlon Tahioa, Azariah Soromon (Merrill Nand), Samuela Drudru (C) (Bruce Hughes), Filipe Baravilala.

Rewa– Emori Ragata, Peniame Drova, Ivan Kumar, Patrick Joseph, Abbu Zahid (Iosefo Verevou), Setareki Hughes (C), Gabriel Matanisiga, Tevita Waranaivalu, Josaia Sela (Samuela Nabenia), Kavaia Rawaqa, Iowane Matanisiga (Madhavan Goundar).

Reginald Chandar
Reginald Chandar
Head of News & Sports | news@fijilive.com

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