Today, we look at the only team that was left to cover — the Jetsetters, and finish with predictions for the opening day's games. Nadi looks in good stead for the Courts Inter District Championship.
Excellent preparation, good coaching staff, a relatively experienced side and a healthy financial backing. What else would players want in their quest to break a 10-year jinx?
I hear the side has been promised a good monetary reward if they can hoist the Lloyd Farebrother Trophy on Sunday afternoon. When the moneymen are behind you, it gives you that extra urge to rise and shine. There are other strengths as well like coach Kamal Swamy. He is one of the nicest coaches around, media-wise. Swamy handles the media really well, is a good motivator, has eye for talent and shares a good bond with players. His teams are often well-drilled and tactically astute. To have Imdad Ali as technical adviser is a bonus, but his loyalty will be put to the test if they come up against Ba on Sunday given he is man in black at heart — just kidding!
A recognised goal scorer, someone in the mould of Rusiate Waqan, Alipate Driu, Emosi Baleinuku or even my good mate Watisoni Voli, who was always on the mark even from the left side of midfield. It's nice to see Voli's son's name in the squad (Rusiate Matirerega).
For most part of the BOG semi-final against Labasa, Nadi was the better team. They created more chances but failed to put away any of them. With Viliame Toma they will have a more meaner defence but will they be able to hold their own in mid-field. They haven't really found a natural central midfielder since Maika Kasami, who will be reporting on the tournament for the City Star newspaper.
Players to watch
Poasa Bainivalu. He has had an indifferent season so far following all the commotion about his release from Lautoka but with the return of the experienced Toma, he should come good. Ratu Josefata Dugucagi came into the spotlight at the 2007 IDC in Suva when the then Gurjit Singh-coached Nadi went down 2-1 to Ba in the final. He is very skilful, exceptionally talented but often does one too many when in possession. He needs to be more of a team player. Krishneel Krishna's game gets better every time I see him, someone who plays his heart out with a decent shift every time he puts on that green jersey.
The game against Suva this evening is vital. If they draw or win against the Whites, they will be in the semi-final. If they lose, they will then need to win their last three games, including the game against Ba on Friday to progress. Whatever happens tonight, I am still looking forward to that Nadi-Ba clash. That, for me, is shaping up to be the match of the tournament and I won't be surprised if Nadi stuns Ba in that one.
Each day I will be sharing my thoughts (predictions) with you. Let's see how many I get right!
Premier: Division: Taveuni 2 Nadogo 1, Bua 1 Dreketi 1, Rakiraki 3 Seaqaqa 0; Lami 2 Seaqaqa 1; Tailevu Naitasiri 3 Vatukoula 1; Nasinu 2 Taveuni 1.
Super premier: Labasa 1 Navua 0: On paper, Labasa should have too much firepower for this relatively inexperienced Navua side. Pita Bolaitoga, Wira Wama and Maciu Dunadamu will be hard to tie down. Navua will most likely be without injured 17-year-old rising star Kolinio Sivoki and the seasoned Siga Ali. A lot though will depend on what strategy the Navuans come up with to counter the high-flying Babasiga Lions and how veteran Seveci Rokotakala marshalls his hastily assembled defence. Navua will put up a fight against the Lions but the northerners will just nick it at the end.
Lautoka 2 Nadroga 0: The Blues will come out firing in this one. The absence of Alvin Avinesh will stand out for them while Nadroga will miss Archie Watkins. It will be a tight first 30 minutes but in the end the pressure will finally take its toll on the Coral Coast side. Inexperience all-around the lack of an inspirational leader in the form of Watkins will get the better of them. Valerio Nawatu, if he plays, will stand out in this one.
Suva 1 Nadi 0: Suva has been preparing more for this game than the tournament itself. They have yet to beat Nadi in four outings this year but I think they will finally put an end to that misery this evening. With Nathan Shivam back after that injury setback during the BOG and Samu Kautoga at the top of his game, the Whites will be very cohesive in midfield. Joseph Mishra should be back doing what he loves best — scoring goals. It will be interesting to see where Nadi fields Viliame Toma. Will they be wary of Suva's attacking threat in Mishra, Issa Sani and Ralph Sherwin and use him at central defence to counter that or push him up in mid-field to hassle and contain Shivam and Kautoga?
Ba 2 Rewa 0: If Rewa tries to take on Ba and match them with an attacking game, the tie will be over by half-time. If the Reds want to get anything, they will need to take a cautious approach and play a defensive formation. Ba will be rampant in front of their home fans. They have been in camp for weeks and their players must be itching to strut their stuff. It will be a very long 60 minutes tonight for the Rewa defence.