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It's transfer time

Rashneel Kumar
Thursday, February 27, 2014

FOOTBALL in Fiji has probably reached its most exciting time.

It's the time when money â€" literally â€" will do the talking with the transfer window opening earlier this week and closing on March 15.

This is an opportune time for teams struggling in the Fiji Sun/Skipper Tuna National Football League to revamp their squads with some sensible buying.

In the new Super Eight format, the team that will finish last at the end of the competition will be demoted.

After round six of competition, former champions Lautoka is the only side without a win.

Needless to say, they need an injection of some fresh blood and, maybe, a dose or two of pride.

Nadi 0 Suva 1

The match of the round lived up to expectations as both unbeaten teams showed class and determination in their run for the top spot in the competition.

But it was the 2012 Inter District Championship hero Waisake Navunigasau's goal in the dying stages of the first spell that made the difference.

It really was the battle of minds with two top coaches Gurjit Singh (Suva) and Kamal Swamy (Nadi) laying the foundation for what turned out to be an entertaining match.

The Nadi strike force of Rusiate Matarerega and Napolioni Qasevakatini, who was later dismissed from the match, created havoc for league leaders Suva during most of the opening half.

Kudos to the Capital City stopper Ulaiasi Tamanisau for standing his ground despite carrying injury.

Singh went defensive in the second spell with one man down and adopted his lethal "one man upfront" formation with striker Samuela Drudru keeping the Nadi defenders on their toes.

Rewa 0 Labasa 1

Under Bal Sanju Reddy, Labasa is making a good progress this season having lost twice in the last five matches.

But Reddy's only loss was against Nadi (0-1) at Subrail Park in round five of the competition. His plan to play expansive football is paying off, given the calibre of players the team has. Apisalome Turuva scored the lone goal in the first half.

The Marika Rodu-coached Rewa played equally well but if luck plays any role in a football match, the Delta Tigers lacked that badly. Labasa is placed fourth, two points ahead of Rewa on nine, in the NFL standings.

Nadroga 1 Navua 2

Navua seems to be on the rise under new management this season. A spirited effort from the team, which was reduced to 10 men early in the opening spell following the dismissal of Simione Maikali, created more pressure on the already burdened Nadroga side.

Striker Vineet Chand gave Navua the lead but Nadroga bounced back in the second spell through Tomasi Tuicakau before Monit Chand sealed the 2-1 win in the dying stages.

Finishing is what the Stallions lacked and a lethal finisher(s) is what they need in this transfer window.

Navua is placed sixth with three points after five matches ahead of Nadroga which has played six matches with only a win against Lautoka.

Lautoka 2 Ba 6

It rained goals at Churchill Park in Lautoka on Sunday and the host is the one in danger of drowning.

Defending champions Ba is back in the frame with three wins and draw from four matches and is placed second on the points table with 10 points.

Ba capitalised on the inconsistent play from the Sugar City side and netted twice to lead 2-1 at the break.

Lautoka failed to hold on in the second spell and four more goals from the Men in Black in the second spell added to the Blues' miserable run this season.

Games to be played this week.

Navua-Lautoka (Ratu Cakobau Park, Nausori at 1.30pm)

There seems to be no urgency or very little of it in the Blues camp given the danger they face in the competition.

Navua is the only team they have to play and lose in the opening round of the NFL competition, they will have to dig deep to get their first win this weekend.

Navua on "Mission Destruction Blues" is very determined to get their second win in the national league.

Verdict - Lautoka to win by a goal.

Rewa-Nadi (Ratu Cakobau Park, Nausori at 3.30pm)

Nadi will want to win this match badly to remain in the title race but Rewa still has a chance to finish on top with only two loses so far.

Given the calibre of players in both teams, it will be a tough and close encounter and the team that has a rigid defence should come out on top.

Verdict - Nadi to win by a goal.

Quote of the Week

"We have won six out of six and hats off to the boys for maintaining the consistency. I knew that it would be a tough game and worked out a game plan to stop Nadi's attack," Suva coach Singh after the win against Nadi.

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