Rewa kept its unbeaten run of the season intact with a 3-2 extra time win over Ba in an exciting second semifinal of the 2023 Digicel Fiji FACT at the HFC Bank Stadium in Suva today.
As expected, the much anticipated semifinal between the arch rivals of local football got off to a fiery start, giving fans a mouth-watery display of fast and constructive football.
Rewa went up in the 9th minute after Zahid neatly controlled a Iowane Matanisiga through pass off a Josaia Sela throw and slotted the ball into the back of the net, giving goalie Tevita Koroi no chance at all.
Ba Coach Imdad Ali sensed weak play in midfield and replaced Argentinean Carlos Raffa with Fiji U20 rep Samuela Navoce.
Navoce fell into the right back’s position and the change saw Peceli Sukabula push up in midfield.
Teen sensation Nabil Begg who was heavily marked throughout the encounter was booked with fellow mate Mohammed Raheem in the first 30 minutes of the match.
Rewa led 1-0 at the break and looked more dominant in the second spell although Ba attacked through set-pieces and counter moves which kept Emori Ragata busy.
Just a minute before fulltime, Begg was chopped down inside the Rewa box and this saw the match referee Kavitesh Behari point to the penalty spot.
Lanky Etonia Dogalau rose to the occasion and got the leveler in the first minute of injury time and push the match into extra time.
Replacement striker Asivorosi Rabo who replaced Zahid found himself in the right spot at the right time in the 97th minute after a beautiful set up from Iosefo Verevou to bury the ball past a hapless Koroi for a 2-1 lead.
Early in the second spell of extra time, Rewa was awarded a penalty and Patrick Joseph converted the spot kick to further extend their lead.
Ba did not give up and pulled another one back through Dogalau who headed the ball from a Rahul Naresh free-kick to make the last eight minutes of the encounter much more exciting and kept the fans of both the sides on the edge of their seats.
Ragata was taken down twice in tussles with Ba attacker and this saw play being held for a while to allow for treatment.
The Delta Tigers managed to hold on to book their spot in tomorrow’s grand finale against Lautoka.
The final will kick off at 3pm.