Fiji: Ba overcomes Labasa’s 10-men as Rewa continues at the top of Premier League

A very entertaining weekend of football took place in Fiji; Navua recorded a very much needed win – their first in the season – against Nasinu in the injury time, Ba surpassed Labasa on Saturdaya as a 17-year-old attacker gave Rewa the win against Lautoka.

On Saturday, both Ba and Labasa were all in for the three points in order to improve their rankings on Vodafone Premier League’s table. The first half ended with a 1-0 win for the visitors thanks to a goal of the striker Siotame Kubu – Labasa was close to continue their good run after beating Nadi in the previous weekend. Although in the second half the 2019 Fiji FA Player of the Year, Atonio Tuivuna, was red carded in the 70th minute of play. Ba pressed upfront for an equalizer and it came through effort of Sanaila Waqanicakau in the 78th minute – three minutes later the same Waqanicakau added another to the scoresheet to put Ba upfront and seal the comeback of the Men in Black. The first two goals of the tall striker in the season gave a very important to win to Ba after being defeated bu Nasinu and Nadi.

Sanaila Waqanicakau (black) was the man of the match – Fiji FA Media

On Sunday three matches finished the weekend of football in the top-tier league in Fiji: Nadi received Suva at Prince Charles Park and expected to continue their good momentum after destroying Ba in the mid-week. The remained tied until the 87th minute of player when in a faster counter-attack started by the goalkeeper Beniaminio Mateinaqara, the striker Christopher Wasasala could place calmly the ball in the back of the net after an one-on-one situation with Nadi’s goalkeeper. Unfortunately for the locals, the Capital City Boys ended up with a very important win to continue pursuing the leaders Rewa.

The double-header in Nausori at Ratu Cakobau Park was full of emotions for the supporters of Rewa, Lautoka, Nasinu and Navua. The first match saw the first two placed sides in the standings Rewa and Lautoka play a very entertaining match. Lautoka started better the match controlling ball possesion, but Rewa was always dangerous in the counter-attacks. The Delta Tigers opened the scoreline thanks to the goal of the 17-year-old attacker Josaia Sela after a fantastic through ball from Patrick Joseph. The same Patrick Joseph had a penalty kick opportunity to double the lead of Rewa minutes later after a reckless challenge of Sekove Finau in the box: fortunaly for Finau and Lautoka, Joseph shot was defended by young goalkeeper Joela Biuvanua.

Rewa and Lautoka clash took place at Ratu Cakobau Park – Fiji FA Media

In the second half Lautoka pressed Rewa in order to score an equalizer; Dave Radrigai was the closest player to scored for Lautoka after a header well defened by the goalkeeper Senirusi Bokini. Unfortunately for the Blues, they could not create much danger to Rewa’s defense while the Delta Tigers were always a threat in the counter-attack. In the final moments of the game, Rewa had chances to double the scoreline, but the tiredness of the attackers commanded by Marika Rodu and the good performance of the goalkeeper Biuvanua did not allow them to score – Biuvanua that should have been sent off after using his hands out of the penalty box, incident that was not seen by the match referee. Rewa’s 1-0 win keep them at the top of the table now with 16 points collected.

The final match of the day had even more emotions for the fans. After a first half of lack of creativity from both Nasinu and Navua, the second half had 5 goals – including two in the injury time. Nasoni Mereke opened the scoreline after a good assist from the Solomon Islander Marlon Nonone, but it did not take long for Simione Damuni to equalize for Navua after a mistake from Nasinu’s goalkeeper after a corner-kick. A brilliant individual effort from Nonone saw Nasinu upfront again as the player passed by two defenders and finished with the right foot in the low corner of Navua’s goal.

It seemed Nasinu would collect the three points and continue their good run after defeating Ba in the last weekened. The team started to concentrated only defense, but in the injury time a crucial mistake by defender Leone Damudamu gave the equalizer for Navua, an own goal scored after a foul in the right flank that was wrongly chested to his own nets. Minutes later, a lapse of concentration of Nasinu’s defense allowed another goal for Navua. A long ball was controled by the veteran Alfred Ali that found another veteran, Vineet Chand, in the middle of two Nasinu defenders to place it home to score the winner for the first victory of his side in the season.

Now, in the table of the 2020 Vodafone Premier League Rewa is four points clear at the top, while Navua is now only three points away from Nasinu in the other top of the table – fighting against relegation.

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