Ba coach Mohammed Ashif Khan believes replacement midfielder Mohammed Fataul Raheem was the game-changer in their 1-1 draw against Lautoka in their second Group A match of the 2023 Courts Inter District Championship (IDC) at the HFC Bank Stadium in Suva.
Lautoka was leading by 1-0 at the break and Khan said they decided to make a tactical move by replacing Sailasa Ratu with Raheem to add more depth to their engine room.
“I really like to salute the team and the reserves for making the difference in the game.”
“Fataul is a very good player. He is a player who can be placed in any position for him; we knew putting him in the midfield would make a huge difference. We wanted to put in the starting 11 but due to some injuries we kept him in the reserve.”
Khan while saluting the Men-In-Black for their fighting spirit to come back and hold the Blues, said his message which was to shut Lautoka in the midfield was key in the match.
“The boys really showed that they are the warriors of Ba, they fought well, they played till the last minute and in the end, one point was enough for us.”
“Lautoka was a better side but we were able to hold them and play equally well with them. We saw in the first half that we lacked in key areas and we reminded players at the break that we’ve got to improve in the second half.”
“My message to the boys was to improve on our midfield and we need to shut them in the midfield so that they don’t progress and we were able to do that through our changes.”
“The boys followed the instructions and really did well in the midfield. When we talk about Lautoka, they were strong in the midfield so we needed to equally match them to stay in the game.”
The traditional football giants currently have four points from a win and a draw and have a crucial match against arch-rivals Labasa today.
“For tomorrow’s match against Labasa, we will go back and see how we can tackle Labasa and gain the maximum points that we need as we want to reach the semifinal but we are hoping for the best.”
“Labasa is a champion side and they can do anything in the game so we are well versed with that. We will go back and work on strategies on how to play them.”
The match between Ba and Labasa will kick off at 7pm.