Suva’s loss is Nadi’s title gain

Rusiate Matarerega (left) with Josevata Malakai and Josua Tawake celebrate after winning the Vodafone Fiji FACT at Churchill Park in Lautoka. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

AN own goal by AFL Suva defender Remueru Tekiate paved the way for Jack’s Nadi to lift the 2019 Vodafone Fiji FACT title at Churchill Park in Lautoka yesterday.

Nadi came from behind to beat Suva 2-1 in the final and walk away $17,000 richer.

Suva held the early advantage when Solomon Islander Gagame Feni showed his classy dribbling skills in the 12th minute going past the Nadi defenders and rounding up goalkeeper Vereti Dickson to send in a perfect cross from an acute angle to Filipe Baravilala to tap the ball in.

The Capital City side led 1-0 at the break. Nadi fired back from the resumption of play with Rusiate Matarerega finding the back of the net in the 46th minute.

The Jetsetters went up in the 51st minute when Jeshal Kumar’s attempt was propelled by Remueru Tekiate into his own goalmouth after a hasty clearance.

The own goal is what separated the two teams at the end.

The victory was a proud moment for Nadi coach Pranesh Amarsee since it was his first in a major tournament.

Amarsee said being down by a goal at half time, he told the boys not to panic since there was 45 minutes remaining.

“We knew that it was going to be tough,” Amarsee said.

“In the first half the players seemed to be lost and their confidence was down.

“At the break I told the boys that we still had 45 minutes to go. In the second half we regrouped and got the result. Suva coach Saroj Kumar, who will be migrating to New Zealand soon, said victory would have been the best farewell gift for him.

Kumar said fatigue is what cost them the game at the end.

“My boys were actually very tired because they played extra time in the semi-final against Ba and that took its toll on them.

“Nadi was able to play much better especially in the second half. I’m pleased that the Suva officials allowed me to coach the team in the Fiji FACT.

“We made some mistakes and I regret to say that those mistakes cost us. So there is always a time to learn and move on. I’m sad that we could not make it because I’m going to New Zealand and it would have been the best farewell gift had we won but it wasn’t to be.”

Suva- Emori Ragata (C), Remueru Tekiate, Epeli Leiroti, Michael Boso, Tomasi Uculoa, Meli Codro, Filipe Baravilala, Waisake Navunigasau, Iosefo Verevou, Gagame Feni, Ratu Apenisa Anare.

Nadi- Vereti Dickson (C), Rahul Krishna, Josua Tawake, Rusiate Matarerega, Jeshal Kumar, William Valentine, Christopher Kumar, Tito Vodowaqa, Ame Votoniu, Peni Tuigulagula, Patrick Joseph.

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