June 04, 2022
Striker Christopher Wasasala netted a brace as Labasa came from two goals down to beat Ba 4-3 in a thrilling first semifinal of the 2022 Digicel Fiji FACT at Lawaqa Park in Sigatoka today.
The Men in Black started the match well and went up in the 8th minute through a Narendra Rao free-kick which landed straight into the roof the net.
Lanky marksman Saula Waqa doubled Ba’s lead in the 15th minute with a half volley which gave goalkeeper Atunaisa Naucukidi no chance at all.
Waqa found the net again in the 17th minute but the goal was disallowed by referee Veer Singh as he was deemed to have fouled a defender in his quest to score.
Labasa made a quick change and sent in Ashnil Raju in place of youth player Moraica.
Midfielder Siotame Kubu pulled one back for the Babasiga Lions in the 18th minute with a well-timed header from a corner kick.
Wasasala got the equalizer in the 61st minute after taking advantage of some sloppy defending by Ba.
Replacement midfielder Edwin Sahayam walked on the right flank beautifully and laid a low cross for Wasasala to tap in the third goal for Labasa in the 68th minute.
Relentless pressure from the Northerners saw veteran Taniela Waqa sneak in with their fourth goal in the 74th minute with the goalkeeper Sanaila Waqanicakau beaten and leaving the goalmouth wide open for an easy toe through.
Ba’s Waqa was sent off in the 90th minute after copping his second booking of the match while replacement striker Kini Madigi pulled another one back deep in injury time to end the match with a respectable score-line.
Labasa will meet the winner of the Suva vs Lautoka semifinal in the grand finale at 4pm tomorrow.
Ba- Sanaila Waqanicakau (C), Manasa Nawakula, Aakash Sharma, Nabil Begg, Ilimotama Jese, Peceli Sukabula (Kini Madigi), Emosi Navaba (Savenaca Nakalevu), Saula Waqa, Naren Rao, Etonia Dogalau, Rahul Naresh.
Labasa- Atunaisa Naucukidi, Iliesa Lino, Eparama Moraica (Ashnil Raju), Sitiveni Rakai (C), Christopher Wasasala (Mosese Nabose), Ilisoni Loloivalu, Ratu Apenisa Anare (Edwin Sahayam), Akeimi Ralulu, Lekima Gonerau, Siotame Kubu (Ilaisa Nayasi), Taniela Waqa (Ilisoni Logaivou).
By Reginald Chandar