Labasa did what it was necessary for them to seal a spot at the semi-final stage of 2020 edition of Fiji FACT. Playing at home with an enthusiastic home crowd support, the Babasiga Lions seemed always stronger than Ba throughtout the 90 minutes of play.
The important Ilisoni Lolaivalu sent the fans into delirium as he scored through a header in front of Ba’s goalkeeper at the 17th minute of play. Labasa was ahead and all they wanted was to defend their lead until the end of the match. The Men in Black knew they would need at least a draw to qualify for the semi-finals and concentrated their efforts to attack. Ba did not create much goalscoring chances in the first half, while Labasa struggled to keep possession due the bad conditions of the pitch at Subrail Park.
Labasa kept their lead until the final whistle of the first half; Ba came stronger in the final part of the match with the introduction of the experienced striker Samuela Drudru. Ba managed to level the match after a lapse of concentration of Labasa’s defense; the youngster Sumeet Goundar fired a shot that deflected return to himself and again the midfielder finished, this time finding the left down corner of Akuila Mateisuva for the celebration of Ba players and staff.
But, only two minutes later, Labasa took again the lead: after a well-taken corner at the first post, Ratu Anare flicked the ball directly to the nets of Ba. After a moment of doubt, the central referee confirmed the goal for Labasa for the joy of the fans on the stands – sending the Men in Black into desperation.
At the 70th minute of play Anare once again shined with a fantastic solo effort play; the attacker passed the defend and fired a perfect cross to Ilisoni Lolaivalu that headed the ball to the nets to score the third goal in favour of the Lions; the fans went dancing as they felt their team was very close to confirm a spot in the semi-finals of Fiji FACT.
The fans were right: Ba was not strong enough to force Labasa into pressure and the Lions even created more scoring chances. The young Shivneel Singh had the best chance for the Men in Black as he hit the post with a free-kick at the edge of the penalty box.
The 3-1 win for Labasa confirmed their to take on Suva this Saturday at Subrail Park in one of the semi-finals of the last football tournament of the year in Fiji. The other semi-final match will be played between Nadi and Rewa.
Ba finishes the year with no major trophies won – the club was also unable to qualify for the OFC Champions League at the Vodafone Premier League.