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The Green machine

Manoj Kumar
Tuesday, January 29, 2013

ALL eyes were on Nadi, Ba, Lautoka and Suva at the 1983 Battle of the Giants Tournament.

Somehow a star-studded Ba missed out on a top four berth. The Men in Black were held to a 1-all draw by Rewa and beaten 2-1 by Suva in pool play.

Penalties from Abdul Munaf (Rewa) and Isimeli Nale (Ba) gave the teams a point each but Ba looked like they'd get the better of Suva.

Mosese Soro gave his side the lead but Hirdesh Prasad and a Bale Raniga own goal gifted Suva a well deserved comeback victory.

'Fixed match'

So Ba had to wait for the Rewa-Suva game to see if they'd qualify for the semi-finals. They needed Suva to beat Rewa so they could accompany the Whites into the play-offs.

Rewa went ahead through Kini Tamani but Jone Ratu, whose wife had given birth to their first baby before the tournament, equalised. However, Vula Wate was let in to score the winning goal for Rewa (2-1) with hardly any Suva defenders offering any resistance.

A leading Suva official then claimed that they meant to lose the game as they were only doing "what we learnt from Ba".

Salim frustration

In another exciting result from pool play, Nadi was held to a scoreless draw by lowly Nadroga. Nadi came through pool play as runners-up with their only win being against Labasa 3-1.

Lautoka, with a 0-0 draw with Nadi, a 5-0 victory over Labasa and a 2-0 scoreline over Nadroga, topped their pool. Suva, winners, and Rewa qualified from the other section.

Stylish Rewa midfielder Mohammed Salim stormed out of the Rewa camp following differences with team officials on the eve of the semi-finals.

Semi-finals

Nadi met Suva in one semi-final. The two teams were locked 1-all at full-time. Marika Ravula headed Nadi into the lead but Ratu sent in a well-weighted curler from near the corner flag to stun Nadi stopper Savenaca Waqa. It was onto the dreaded penalty shoot-out and Waqa emerged the hero stopping shots from Prasad and Tony Kabakoro while Ratu smashed his kick wide.

Suva goalie Akuila Ravono stopped Peter Dean's attempt while Sosi Kaitani's attempt was off the mark. Nadi won 4-3.

Rewa came up against Lautoka and the Delta Tigers only fizzled out in extra time. They were locked 2-all at full-time with goals from John Monday, the late Gopal Krishna (Lautoka) and Tamani and Stan Morrell (Rewa). Sam Work and Toma Tani netted for the Blues in extra time for a 4-2 win.

Cheetah out

It was Lautoka versus Nadi in the final with the host team having an advantage. Kelemedi "Cheetah" Vosuga, who scored a hat-trick against Labasa in pool play, was carried off injured in the semi-final and ruled out of the decider. Without him, Nadi opted for a defensive formation, but they could not hold out until the end. Twelve minutes from time, Ravula curled in a corner kick and veteran goalie, the late Nicholas Rounds failed to handle the ball and spilled it forward into the path of Manu Pokar, who slammed it home. Rounds was brought in by coach Mike Thomas for an injured Semi Bai. Nadi celebrated in style on their home turf to become the first team to win the BOG three times, edging ahead of Ba (2). The Nadi team that day had the likes of Waqa, Dean, Navneenda Goundar, Inosi Tora, Kini Tubi, creator Emasi Koroi, Kini Tubi, Tela Waqa, Ravula, Pokar, Rusiate Waqan and Henry Dyer.





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