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Ba banks on locals

Zanzeer Singh
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

BA will not recruit overseas players for the Oceania Champions League play-offs which will be held in the country in April.

The Men in Black has qualified for the competition for the sixth time.

Ba is in Group C with Papua New Guinea champions Hekari United, Tafea FC of Vanuatu and AS Magenta of New Caledonia.

During the annual general meeting last week, the Ba Football Association delegates unanimously supported a move to utilise the local players.

Ba recruited Nigerian Sanni Issa, Fayah Camara from the Philippines and Clarence Clarke of Liberia for the Oceania Champions League last year.

Issa went on to star in the competition scoring the highest number of goals and won the player of the tournament award.

Camara and Clarke failed to impress and did not get much game time.

Ba president Rishi Kumar said the local players did the job in the local competition that got them through to the Oceania Champions League.

Kumar said there was no guarantee that the overseas players would help them win the regional competition.

"We will stick with our players," he said.

"They deserve to play in the Oceania Champions League because they are the ones who have made the team reach this far. We will not be recruiting overseas players because Ba is not a franchise club."

Ba will play AS Magenta in the opening round on April 7.

The Men in Black first played in the competition in 2005 bowing out in the preliminary stages. Ba lost in the final of the 2007 competition to Auckland City on the away goals rules.

Ba finished third in their group in 2008, 2009 and last year.

Nadi will also play in this year's competition.

The Kamal Swamy-coached side is in Group B with defending champions Auckland City, Vanuatu champions Amicale FC and Tahiti champions AS Dragons.

Group A has Kiwi FC of Samoa, AS Pirae of Tahiti, Waitakere United of New Zealand and the winner of the Solomon Islands S-League which will be decided next month.

The Group A matches will be played at Churchill Park in Lautoka. Group B matches will be played at Prince Charles Park in Nadi while Group C matches will be played at Govind Park in Ba.

The play-offs will be held from April 7 to April 15.

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