Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Suva qualifies for OFC Champions League

Suva will represent Fiji in the upcoming OFC Champions League after beating Rewa 2-1 in Leg 2 of the National Playoff at the HFC Bank Stadium today.

After a 1-1 draw in the first leg on Thursday night, both teams entered the field with an equal chance of qualifying.

The Rams Cleaning Services and All Freight Logistics sponsored Suva played with a lot of determination and matched the pace and speed of DFPL defending champs Rewa in all aspects of the game.

On the other hand, Solomon Islander Alvin Hou bolstered the Design Marine Services sponsored Delta Tigers midfield alongside Madhwan Goundar who started ahead of Ivan Kumar.

Early in the match, Rewa received a free kick which Abbu Zahid took but nippy midfielder Ramzan Khan beautifully cleared the ball away.

In the sixth minute, match official Neeshil Varman flashed a yellow card to Suva’s Ni-Vanuatu import Azariah Soromon for foul play on Rewa’s Kavaia Rawaqa.

Both teams tussled hard in the windy and humid conditions.

Suva also received two back-to-back free kicks which Soromon powered over the bar.

Rewa could have gone up in the 21st minute through a Setareki Hughes free kick which Zahid headed but it landed directly in the hands of experienced national and Suva goalkeeper Akuila Mateisuva.

Some stern pep talk at the halftime break saw the Babs Khan coached Whites come out firing in the second spell.

A timely cross from Khan from the left hand edge of the box saw Solomon Islander Marlon Tahioa head the ball right into the roof of the net, giving goalkeeper Emori Ragata no chance whatsoever in the 48th minute.

Rewa Coach Marika Rodu made three tactical changes and sent in Ivan Kumar, Iosefo Verevou and Solomon import Atkin Kaua in place of Captain Hughes, Zahid and Rawaqa .

Suva on the other hand introduced veteran Meli Codro, Shahil Dave, Merrill Nand in place of Khan, Simione Nabenu and goalscorer Tahioa to add more experience and depth in the attack.

Midfielder Ravinesh Karan Singh’s powerhouse attempt from outside the box which Dave Radrigai laid in the path of Nand was buried into his own net by defender Iowane Matanisiga in the 84th minute.

National and Suva defender Inoke Turagalailai and Rewa’s Gounder were awarded a yellow card for foul play each in the 66th and 91st minute.

Verevou pulled one back for the Delta Tigers deep in additional time with a back heel from a Goundar attempt but it could not cause any threat to Suva as they clung on to win.

The teams:

Suva: Akuila Mateisuva (GK), Simione Nabenu (Merrill Nand), Inoke Turagalialai, Remueru Tekiate, Ramzan Khan (Meli Codro), Dave Radrigai, Marlon Tahioa (Shahil Dave), Ravnesh Karan Singh, Azariah Soromon, Samuela Drudru (C), Filipe Baravilala.

Reserves: Jovilisi Borisi, Saniala Waqanicakau, Malakai Rakula, Bruce Hughes, Waisake Navunigasau,  Rusiate Matererega.

Rewa: Emori Ragata (GK), Peniame Drova, Patrick Joseph, Alvin Hou, Abbu Zahid (Atkin Kaua), Setareki Hughes (C) (Iosefo Verevou), Madhwan Gounder, Tevita Waranivalu, Josaia Sela, Kavaia Rawaqa (Ivan Kumar), Iowane Matanisiga.

Reserves: Mohammed Alam, Ayush Chand, Samuela Nabenia, Delon Shankar, Neemish Prasad, Josefa Ravula, Asivorisi Rabo.

Romeka Romena
Romeka Romena
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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