The 2020 Vodafone Premier League season resumed on last Saturday when Ba took three points home after beating Navua by 5-3. Now the Men in Black have a tougher challenge against Lautoka at Churchill Park to prove themselves.
Ba showed that they are still strong after losing key players like goalkeeper Beniaminio Mateinaqara and defender Laisenia Raura. Led by some players like Abbu Zahid and Saula Waqa, the Men in Black have to prove that they are able to fight for the title with the current squad. Head coach Ronil Kumar knows that it is going to be a difficult contest – “Lautoka is no doubt a great team and they will surely come up firing in front of their home fans,” he said to Fiji Football Association Media.
On the other hand it is going to be Lautoka’s first official match after their terrible campaign in 2020 OFC Champions League. The Bluez lost team’s captain Poasa Bainivalu who is currently playing in New Zealand while Navneel Nand left the team to join Nadi. Current Vodafone Premier League’s top scorer Shazil Ali broke his leg and he is expected to miss some months due to this injury. Young defender Arami Manumanubai was also expected to leave the Bluez to join Frankston Pines from Australia but he is still with Lautoka as he could not leave the country due to border restrictions.
Another player affected by border restrictions is Malakai Rakula. The 28-year-old midfielder left Ba to join Manukau United from New Zealand in the beginning of the year but he is currently stuck in Fiji due to border restrictions so he asked Manukau United to keep playing in Fiji to stay fit – something that was agreed between Rakula, Manukau and his now new club Lautoka. However he is not going to be available for today’s clash against Ba.
It is going to be Ravinesh Kumar’s first match as Lautoka’s head coach. He was appointed the new team’s head coach earlier this week. Shalendra Prasad – the president of Lautoka – says that Prasad’s inclusion is a major advantage for the Bluez – “Master Ravinesh Kumar as the new head coach will be a big boost for the Lautoka FC team. Nevertheless he is the number one coach in Fiji. And definitely he can do wonders,” he stated.
Lautoka is currently in the third position with seven points in four matches while Ba is in fourth with six points in two matches. You can check the current league standings by clicking here.