Tuesday, March 5, 2024
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Super-sub Waqa nets winner in CVC opener

Experienced marksman Saula Waqa came off the bench and netted a second half winner as Lautoka overcame Ba 2-1 in the first leg of the Pillay Garments Champion vs Champion at Churchill Park today.

As expected, the opening match of the season had a lot in-store for fans of both teams who gathered in numbers in the sugar city on a hot and humid afternoon.

Ba attacked early in the match through lanky Etonia Dogalau but goalkeeper Joela Biuvanua pulled off a fine save.

The Men in Black with returning Kalaveti Sivoi at left back and Sailasa Ratu partnering with Rahul Naresh in the heart of the midfield looked a bit dis-organised at times and on one such occasion, in the 21st minute, Blues captain Sitiveni Cavuilagi exploited them and sent a through pass to top striker Sairusi Nalaubu to open the scoring.

Naresh copped the first booking of the season two minutes later for a crude challenge on Sakaraia Naisua.

Mohammed Fataul Raheem, known for his trade-mark free-kicks, was called to action just before the halftime and the Seaqaqa youngster delivered yet another masterclass- a well curled shot which landed into the roof of the net, giving Buivanua no chance whatsoever as the teams headed to the break all even.

Fatigue took its toll on both teams in the second spell and this forced the coaches to look to their bench players for freshness on the field.

Waqa, who came on for Nigerian attacker Usman Omede, made a timely run in the 59th minute and rocketed in a through pass with a left foot attempt, leaving goalkeeper Misiwani Nairube gasping in thin air.

Ba toiled hard in search of the equaliser and sent in players like Ratu Kaliova Dau, Raj Pillay and Solomon Islander Ruel Grayven, but the Blues defence held firm and held on to register the important three points.

Tigers Lautoka will now just need a draw in the second and final leg next Sunday to win the title while Rooster Chicken Ba will need a win.

The starting teams:

Ba– Misiwani Nairube (C), Rahul Naresh, Sailasa Ratu, Nabil Begg, Gulam Razool, Peceli Sukabula, Kalaveti Sivoi, Suliano Tawanakoro, Etonia Dogalau, Mohammed Raheem, Samuela Navoce.

Lautoka– Joela Biuvanua, Epeli Leiroti, Sitiveni Cavuilagi (C), Ilimotama Jese, Muni Shivam Naidu, Sairusi Nalaubu, Antonio Tuivuna, Sterling Vasconcellos, Poasa Bainivalu, Usman Omede, Sakaraia Naisua.

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

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