GOALKEEPER Josaia Ratu starred for Tailevu Naitasiri in their 3-1 victory over Rakiraki during the Fiji Sun/GP Batteries Viti Levu premier playoff decider at the Fiji Football Association academy ground in Ba yesterday.
The decider had to be played after both teams were level on points and goal differential in the home and away series.
Ratu, the former Tavua goalkeeper, made a fine save during the penalty shootout after both teams were locked scoreless following the mandatory 90 minutes and 30 minutes extra time.
The two teams were evenly matched and created good scoring opportunities but lacked finishing.
Tailevu Naitasiri's Apisai Voravora, Andrew Naicker and Ravinesh Karan Singh scored during the penalty shootout while Madhwan Gounder's attempt was blocked by Saimoni Nabogi.
Yogendra scored the lone penalty for Rakiraki. Ratu made a spectacular diving effort to save Faiyaz Ali's attempt. Mosese Maraivalu shot wide while Janardhan Gounder skied his attempt.
Tailevu Naitasiri coach Tagi Vonolagi said the missed opportunities nearly cost them the match.
He said the proposed Super Eight format would not help develop soccer in the country.
"The boys played well but we missed many scoring opportunities," the former national captain said.
"We could have finished the game in general time had we done better in attack. I think the boys were a bit too eager. Then the tiredness set in after the 90 minutes."
"But for the penalty shootout I let the boys decide for themselves as to who was going to take the shot. Now we will just have to wait and see what's next."
"Taveuni the Vanua Levu winner is waiting for us. This is the third year in the row that we have qualified for the premier final playoffs."
"We hope that good sense prevails for the betterment of soccer in the country. Taveuni is a good side. We feel sorry for them as they have been waiting for us and there were some delays. I don't believe the Super Eight will help our cause."
Rakiraki coach Pragdesh Gounder said taking Tailevu Naitasiri to the penalty shootout was a positive sign.
He said many of his players were carrying injuries in the match.
"The boys played their hearts out," Gounder said.
"Some of the key players were injured. Our captain Asaeli Combuta was carrying an injury but he went on to lead the team well. We are happy with the performance."
"In penalty kicks it's anyone's game. We will now prepare for the Inter District Championship and try and take the trophy."