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The dirty dozen

Manoj Kumar
Thursday, February 28, 2013

THE English Premier League (EPL) is perhaps the finest football club competition in the world.

Since its establishment in the 1992-'93 season, many exciting matches have been played including some high-scoring thrillers

Showdowns like Manchester United's 8-2 drubbing of Arsenal in August 2011 and Arsenal's 7-4 whipping of Newcastle last December come to mind.

The EPL is the toughest and most watched club competition and you don't really expect goals to rain in too many games.

However, there have been goals galore many times like the two games mentioned above but some 20 and a half years and 7800 matches later the EPL is still awaiting a dozen goals in one game.

The highest scoring game to date is Portsmouth's 7-4 win over Reading in September 2007.

Local version

Our local version of the EPL, the National Football League (NFL) maybe a world apart from England's top flight football but every now and then it does throw up some exciting matches.

One such memorable match was played in July 1980 between Lautoka and Suva at the National Stadium.

It was a round eight match of an eight-team league featuring, the Whites, the Blues, Ba, Rewa, Nadi, Labasa, Sigatoka and Tailevu Naitasiri.

Going into the match, Suva was placed second on the table, two points behind Ba, and Lautoka fourth, two points behind Suva.

A two-goal victory for the Blues would have seen them leap-frog the Whites into second position on goal difference.

Blues lead

The late Gopal Krishna was the star striker for Lautoka at that time. He scored an easy goal in the eighth minute.

Lautoka 1-0.

National team midfielder Tony Kabakoro equalised four minutes from a well-taken free-kick.

1-1.

Suva eased ahead when Shafik Ali set up Stanley Masih with a good header.

Suva 2-1.

Epeli 'Kosa' Raganivatu floated in a good curler and Krishna got to the end of it to head home Lautoka's equaliser.

2-2.

This match was turning out to be a thriller. It was soon raining goals as Krishna got his hat-trick and although the Whites netted a third, the Blues led 4-3 at the break.

Sevens goals in the first half, was there more to come in the second 45 minutes?

Whites shine

This turned out to be a game of two halves.

Lautoka set the pace in the opening stanza and Suva was ready to run away with it in the second spell.

Kabakoro equalised soon after the restart to make it 4-4.

Left back Eddie Rubaha smashed home a 30-yard sizzler to give the Whites the edge.

5-4.

Raganivatu ensured that it was not going to be plain sailing for Suva by netting an equaliser.

It was 5-5 and there were no signs of the goals floodgate closing.

Spectators were being treated to some spectacular football, attacking-wise while the same cannot be said of the defensive display put on by the two teams.

Blues stunned

Masih scored his second for Suva and substitute Pony Chandra made the game safe for the Whites late on as Suva came out on top 7-5 after playing catch-up football early on.

This was one hell of a game, with a hell of a score line.

Twelve goals were scored on a memorable afternoon, but not everyone was happy.

"I can't believe it," uttered shocked Lautoka striker Krishna. "We were up at one stage and yet could not hold onto the game."

Kabakoro, Ali and Rubaha stood out for the home team while Krishna, Upendra Choy and Mukesh Guru held their own for the visitors.

Disappointing on the day were the two goalkeepers, Suva's Aca Ligairi and Lautoka's Suliano Turaga. It simply wasn't their day.

More goals

League leaders Ba were also involved in a high scoring game the same day.

They beat Sigatoka 4-2 with coach, the late Josateki Kurivitu netting a late penalty after coming on as a substitute.

So 18 goals in two games. That's not all.

At Ratu Cakobau Park in Nausori, Tailevu Naitasiri outmuscled Labasa 3-2 in a physical encounter.

Saimoni Ratu was the hero for Tailevu Naitasiri, netting a hat-trick for the home team.

Twenty-three goals in three games and still one game to go.

At Prince Charles Park, Nadi outplayed Rewa 3-0 with Bobby Ali, Manu Pokar and Rusiate Waqan getting on the score sheet.

What a weekend of football, 12 goals in one game and 26 altogether from four matches — a match to remember, a NFL weekend to remember.

The attacking game was clean and pleasing on the eye and the strikers were clinical in front of goal, but the defending by most of the teams was simply poor and 'dirty' — if there is a place in football for that word!





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