DEFENDING champions Ba failed to impress during their 1-0 win over Nadroga in the Fiji Sun/GP Batteries National Football League at Lawaqa Park in Sigatoka yesterday.
The Men in Black dominated territory and possession but only managed to find the back of the net once after hitting the Nadroga goalmouth on three other occasions.
Ba created many scoring opportunities but poor finishing from Malakai Tiwa, Mavileko Nakama and Tuimasi Manuca denied them from raking up the goals against a young Nadroga side.
After a scoreless first half, the visitors scored in the opening moments of the second spell. Tiwa orchestrated the goal from the mid field. He sent a long pass to the right flank to Nakama who raced into the Nadroga box and sent in a low cross. The ball landed on the foot of Manuca who just managed to propel it into the goal mouth as he took an awkward fall.
Nadroga with the vocal crowd support tried hard to get the equaliser but their strikers failed to get past the experienced Jone Vesikula and Marika Rabonakadavu in defence.
Ba coach Yogendra Dutt said it was crucial to get the three points in the first match.
He said they made a slow start in the competition.
"We all have to understand that this was the first game a long break and these sorts of things happen," Dutt said.
"But it does not mean that winning by one goal over Nadroga that we were bad. Match fitness is a worry."
"People should not jump to conclusions. The three points is very important. We have another tough game against Lautoka."
Nadroga soccer coach Waisea Tale Senior labelled Ba as a champion side.
He said they learnt valuable lessons from the fixture.
"We only had a week's preparation," Tale Sr said.
"Ba is a champion side and for us it was good to get a hit out. That lapse in concentration allowed Ba to score. It was those silly passes that gave Ba possession."
"But I take my hat off to the boys. They played well. We created opportunities to score. Fitness is one area that we need to improve. Our passing needs to be more accurate as well."
Ba will face Lautoka at Churchill Park at 3pm today.
Nadroga: Benjamin Rokobaro, Waisea Tale Junior, Tomasi Tuicakau, Vinit Singh, Sanish Pillay, Akuila Saukuru, Ratu Jone Tuinaceva, Archie Watkins, Luke Rawadamu, Ranjit Singh, Krishneel Dutt.
Ba: Epeli Codro, Josefa Neibuli, Jone Vesikula, Marika Rabonakadavu, Aisea Codro, Roneel Kumar, Rinal Prasad, Malakai Tiwa, Mavileko Nakama, Tuimasi Manuca.