June 05, 2022
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9-man Suva defends Fiji FACT

A 9-man Suva outfit successfully defended the Digicel Fiji FACT title at Lawaqa Park in Sigatoka today after beating Labasa 2-0 in an exciting final.

The Whites played with a lot of urgency and determination to match the pace and skills of the Babasiga Lions.

Strikers Christopher Wasasala and Ilisoni Loloivalu threatened the Suva defence with some early attacks but the brilliance of Captain Akuila Mateisuva in goal kept them at bay.

Midfielder Malakai Rakula opened Ram’s Cleaning Services and All Freight Logistics Suva’s account in the 35th minute through a spectacular free-kick which gave goalkeeper Atunaisa Naucukidi no chance at all.

Youngster Peniasi Rotidara was replaced by Samuela Drudru to add more experience and spark to the attack force.

Suva led 1-0 at the break and kept play tight in midfield and defence while opting to launch attacks through long balls and deep crosses.

Drudru scored Suva’s second goal in the 70th minute after neatly finishing off a Azariah Soromon free-kick in style.

However his celebration was cut short as he was sent off a minute later by referee Nishil Varman after copping his second booking.

With a man down, Suva pushed an attacker in defence and opted for one striker.

4R Electric Labasa Coach Ravneel Pratap made some tactical changes and sent in Ratu Apenisa Anare and Siotame Kubu upfront to keep the pressure.

Suva replacement Anish Khem who barely spent ten minutes on the field was sent off in the 88th minute, further reducing the champions to 9 players.

Labasa toiled hard in injury time to pull one back but Suva remained patient and held on till the final whistle.

Suva walks away $17,000 richer while Labasa received $5000 for reaching the final.

The teams:

Suva- Akuila Mateisuva (C), Simione Nabenu, Meli Codro, Inoke Turagalailai, Remueru Tekiate, Malakai Rakula (Anish Khem), Marlon Tahioa (Waisake Navunigasau), Ravnesh Karan Singh, Azariah Soromon, Filipe Baravilala, Peniasi Rotidara (Samuela Drudru).

Labasa-  Atunaisa Naucukidi, Iliesa Lino, Eparama Moraica (Edwin Sahayam) (Ratu Apenisa Anare), Sitiveni Rakai (C), Ilaisa Nayasi, Christopher Wasasala, Ilisoni Loloivalu, Ashnil Raju (Ilisoni Logaivou), Akeimi Ralulu (Siotame Kubu), Lekima Gonerau, Taniela Waqa.

By Reginald Chandar


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