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One over seven

Manoj Kumar
Saturday, December 01, 2012

YOU must have read this quote before: "Football can be cruel at times". One striker scored seven goals in five games and ended up in tears while one defender scored once in five hours of play and became an instant hero.

Times Sport takes you back 32 years to the 1980 Inter-District Championship at Govind Park.

Ba's footballing prowess was at its peak. The home side was gunning for a sixth successive Lloyd Farebrother Trophy triumph.

Nadi, having lost two finals to the Men in Black in the last three years, were hoping to be third time lucky. It was arch-rivals Nadi versus Ba in the grand final.

Early rounds

Ba started its campaign with a convincing 3-0 win over Sigatoka with Inia Bola netting twice and the late Jone Nakosia getting a third.

Nadi was equally impressive. They overcame a tough Rewa outfit 3-2. Striker Rusiate Waqan (2) and Marika Ravula were the goal scorers while Vula Wate and Jimmy Okete, both stars of Fiji's stunning 1-0 win over Australia in 1977, found the target for the Delta Tigers.

A Gajend Naidu hat-trick ensured that Dewan Chand's brace for the opposition wasn't enough as Lautoka edged Tailevu Naitasiri 4-3. Jone Ratu, who would go on to star the following year, stood out as Suva beat a Labasa side (2-0) missing the services of the Zoing brothers — Jimmy, Maxie and Rexie.

Seventh heaven

Lautoka had the likes of Naidu and the late Gopal Krishna but the Blues were no match for the late Jo Kurivitu-coached Ba. Bola took his tally to four goals from two games and Nakosia, Julie Sami (2), his brother Narend and Vimlesh Sami were also on the scoresheet as the home side hammered Lautoka 7-0. Ba led 1-0 at half-time but the Lautoka defence and goalkeeper Semi Bai could not cope with the rampant Ba strike force in the second 30.

Like Bola, Waqan scored twice as Nadi pipped Suva 2-1, Rewa edged Labasa by the same scoreline and Madhvan and skipper Govind Lal scored in Tailevu Naitasiri's 2-0 win over Sigatoka.

On the same day, in a memorable individual effort in the senior division, Jeff Wickham scored eight goals as Navua overpowered Taveuni 9-1. However, Wickham and Navua were later beaten in the final 4-3 by Levuka on a penalty shoot-out.

Southern derby

Suva and Rewa featured in an exciting day three derby with the Whites winning 3-1 with Praveen "Pony" Chandra scoring one and setting up another and Jigga Chand netting twice. Rewa, featuring the likes of Eroni Kubulala, former Fiji captain Abdul Mannan, Hirdesh Prasad and Wate, reduced the deficit late in the game through Okete. Labasa and Nadi played out a 3-all draw with Waqan getting his fifth goal of the tournament. This match saw the emergence of a Labasa player who would go on to become a double international, Tevita Tukania. Ba fielded some new players against Tailevu Naitasiri and one of them, Waisake Nasele, scored two goals in a 3-0 win. Naidu and Krishna were the stars as Lautoka won 2-0 over lowly Sigatoka.

Big day

The semi-finals were barely competitive. Ba wrapped up a 4-0 win over Suva with the late Jo Tubuna and Julie Sami both scoring two goals each.

Waqan continued his good run of form with two goals as Nadi crushed Lautoka 3-0. Sosi Kaitani was the other scorer.

So, as anticipated, it was a Ba-Nadi IDC final for the third time in four years. In 1977, Ba won 1-0 in Suva while in 1979 the Men in Black reigned 2-1 in Nausori. All eyes were on Waqan. He had seven goals to his name while Ba strike ace Inia Bola and the creative Julie Sami had four each.

Nadi started strongly and reportedly had a strong penalty appeal denied after Waqan had gone around Nakosia and was brought down in the box.

The Ba defence weathered the early Nadi storm and in the 19th minute they sent the mainly 12,000 Ba fans into a frenzy. The Nadi defence was too casual in letting a high ball run over their goal line and stocky Vuilabasa cut it towards goal with a last-gasp effort.

Nadi stopper Savenaca Waqa could only parry it into the path of an advancing Semi Tabaiwalu who buried it home.

While all the eyes was on Waqan and Inia, out of nowhere sprung defender Tabaiwalu to grab the limelight with his one and only but decisive goal of the tournament. Jubilant Ba fans poured onto the park as the ball hit the net and it took a few minutes to get them off before play resumed. Tubuna was sent off in the second half for fisting Waqan but Ba held on to complete an unprecedented six-in-a-row victory, 1-0.

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