Youngster Shaheel Valentine scored the winner as Muslim IDC champs Nadi came from two goals down to beat Suva 3-2 in a thrilling first semifinal of the 2023 FANCA International Club Championship at Prince Charles Park in Nadi today.
Early in the opening minutes of the game, the match official flashed a yellow card to Nadi striker Mohammed Shalmeen for a deliberate foul on Suva midfielder Altamish Khan.
The Intian Khan coached Suva started the match well and went up in the 23rd minute through Mohammed Arbaaz powering the ball which landed straight into the roof of the net.
Two minutes later, lanky marksman Sazeem Zhain Ali doubled Suva’s lead with a half volley which gave Nadi goalkeeper no chance whatsoever at all.
Nadi made a quick change and sent in Mohammed Saif in place of youth player Mohammed Aymaan.
Midfielder William Valentine pulled one back for Nadi in the extra time of the first half with a powerful strike in the left corner sending Suva goalkeeper Mohammed Alzaar Alam in the opposite direction.
Suva led 2-1 at the break but the host team entered the second half more determined and hungry to win.
Shalmeen rectified his earlier discipline and got the equaliser in the 36th minute after taking advantage of some sloppy defending by Suva and headed in a Valentine cross.
Eight minutes later, Valentine again walked on the right flank beautifully and laid a low cross for his younger brother Shaheel Valentine to head in the third goal for Nadi to seal the win.
Empire Nadi will play the winner between Drasa and Danemora in the final at 3pm.