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Football's unique trend

Manoj Kumar
Thursday, February 21, 2013

WHEN The Fiji Football Association Cup Tournament started in 1991, Ba won the first tournament. The Men in Black beat the Lions from Labasa 1-0 at Govind Park.

Then for the next four years there was a trend set in that competition whereby the losing finalist from the previous year went on to win the following season.

Labasa reigned 1-0 over Nadroga in the 1992 final, Nadroga beat Tavua in the 1993 final, Tavua overcame Suva 1-0 in the 1994 decider and Suva hammered Labasa 4-0 in the 1995 final.

Similarly, when the Battle of the Giants started in 1978, there followed an early trend in the competition that whenever Nadi lifted the title Ba would follow suit the following year.

Nadi won the inaugural tournament 1-0 over Ba but in 1979 Ba hit back to win 4-2 over Rewa.

Then Nadi beat Ba to win 3-0 in the 1980 final.

Ba came back to triumph 2-0 over Lautoka in the 1981 showdown.

After the controversial walkout final between Ba and Suva in 1982 (awarded to Suva), Nadi were back on the winning podium beating Lautoka 1-0 in the 1983 final.

So if the trend was to continue then surely 1984 would be Ba's year.

Let's see what happened?

Floodlight woes

There were several games played on the opening day of competition at Govind Park but because of poor light the evening games between Suva-Nadro and Rewa-Nadi had to be rescheduled for the next morning.

Desperate attempts by Ba Town Council workers to replace floodlight bulbs as the crowd waited proved futile.

Earlier in the day, Suva drew 0-0 with Nadi and Nasinu beat Labasa 2-0 while in a tough western derby Ba was held scoreless by Lautoka.

Blues down

The following day the fans got to see a thriller with an upset result. Lautoka went into the game against Nasinu as favourites but the Blues were left undone by three classy headers. Lautoka had an early lead through Toma Tani but the late Eliki Tabaki levelled scores with a header for Nasinu. Midfield maestro Eliki Lui headed in a second for Nasinu before ex-LDS student Tabaki netted with an acrobatic diving header to seal a shocking 3-2 win for the southerners.

This sent Lautoka out of the tournament.

In another exciting game, Suva held on to a 1-all draw with Rewa to eliminate the Delta Tigers. Suva scored first through linkman Hirdesh Prasad and while Rewa equalised through sweeper Stan Morrell they could not find a winner and a draw was good enough to send the Whites into the semi-finals.

Sami strikes

Ba met Nadi in one semi-final. Young Akuila Rova, Rupeni Soro and Inia Bola, who came on as a substitute, found the net as Ba had a relatively easy 3-1 win over Nadi.

In the other semi-final, Suva, with a penalty and another strike by Savusavu man Sarwan Singh, beat Nasinu 2-0.

The John Grey-coached side later put up a spirited fight in the final but one lapse of concentration played right into the hands of the opposition.

Confusion in defence between Sheik Saheb and George Samisoni saw young Bimal Sami cash in for the Men in Black with what proved to be the winning goal.

"We are back on the road in search of the national league and IDC titles," an elated Ba coach Vimlesh Singh said after the 1-0 win.

Grey was gracious in defeat: "We have no excuses. Ba were the better side. We made one mistake and that's all that made the difference".

So the trend continued with Ba winning on home soil, a year after Nadi's reign.

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