Fiji FACT: Rewa rules

Labasa defender Antonio Tuivuna heads the ball against Rewa in the final of the Vodafone Fiji Fact at Ratu Cakobau Park on Sunday. Picture ATU RASEA

REWA goalkeeper Manasa Waqavou was the hero for the defending champion in their 5-3 win over Labasa in the dreaded penalty shoot-out of the 2018 Vodafone Fiji FACT at Ratu Cakobau Park in Nausori yesterday.

The teams could not score any goal in normal time and then the match headed into extra time. It remained scoreless and the winner was to be determined in the penalty shoot-out.

The close to 10,000 crowd were glued to their seats and behind the two goalmouths as the Delta Tigers and Babasiga Lions battled for supremacy.

Rewa’s Epeli Saukuru could have scored in the second half, but his header went over the crossbar and then Sairusi Nalaubu’s shot was saved by Labasa goalkeeper Akuila Mateisuva.

Labasa’s Ilisoni Lolaivalu could have given the Babasiga Lions the win in the 20th minute. However, it was Waqavou who saved the shot. Rewa coach Marika Rodu sent in experienced Lorima Dau to control things in the match and he led the attack with substitute player Mohammed Ramzan Khan, but failed to score past Mateisuva.

In the penalty shoot-out, Rewa slotted in five penalties through captain Amani Makoe, Setareki Hughes, Savenaca Baledrokadroka, Dau and defender Josateki Tamudu who nailed the winning penalty.

Labasa midfield general Christopher Wasasala’s shot was saved by fearless Waqavou while Ilisoni Logaivau, Antonio Tuivuna and Pita Levaci scored for the side.

“We were in the bad books for our fans and we managed to defend the tournament successfully through teamwork. The players had faith in themselves while taking the penalty shots,” Rodu said after the win.

“We are the only team to qualify for all the four semi-finals in the past four tournaments.

“My future with this team could be very short as I want to continue with the Fiji women’s team and this could be my last tournament with Rewa.”

Labasa captain Taniela Waqa said they gave their all in the final.

“We knew Rewa would be a tough team playing at home and we came prepared,” he said.

“This is football. We have opportunities towards the end and we could not utilise them to score any goal.”

Rewa also pocketed $15,000 prizemoney.