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Nadi regroups

Rashneel Kumar
Thursday, April 10, 2014

IT wasn't the start that Nadi would have wished for.

But realistically, it had to be that way.

The 0-3 loss to Oceania Football Confederation Champions League title holders Auckland City on Tuesday at Churchill Park isn't a bad performance if you consider the Jetsetters' inexperience in the top level competition.

Nadi is participating in this regional competition after a lapse of 15 years and with a young bunch, some people may feel the team did well given the circumstances.

What they needed to avoid was that red card to striker Samuela Drudru.

It was a horrible foul.

A friend of mine, who happens to be an ardent Ba fan, mentioned before the match that Nadi's physical game could be its nemesis.

He said referees were very particular with the tackles and Nadi could end up with a couple of yellow cards or worse, red.

Drudru's absence, depending on the disciplinary committee meeting which took place last night, could further dent Nadi's chance in the competition.

The team needs him if it feels there is any chance of getting back in the competition.

Nadi will face a daunting task against Vanuatu's Amicale FC tomorrow at Churchill Park.

Amicale FC with a 1-0 win over AS Dragons will come hard on Nadi to collect the maximum points to stay in the competition. With all due respect to Nadi coach Kamal Swamy, I thought the side should have played a better defensive game to hold Auckland City scoreless and pursued good wins in their remaining group matches.

Playing that counter-attacking game with the New Zealanders resulted in the loss of possession and in return the Auckland City defenders toyed around with the Nadi strikers to wear them out.

The comeback in the second half was great but the team lacked the firepower to get those equalisers.

Ba, however, got off to a winning start beating New Caledonia's AS Magenta 2-0 on Monday at Govind Park.

But given the chances the team had, they should have won by a bigger margin.

Those missed opportunities can come back to haunt them in the later stages of the competition.

With former champions Hekari United's 1-3 loss to Vanuatu's Tafea FC, the tussle in Group C is expected to get interesting.

Ba will host Tafea FC today at 1pm and the Yogendra Dutt-coached side has to be on its toes to counter their lethal opponents.

Tafea FC's main weapon is their fast and deadly strikers and the fact that they are quite effective in counter attacks will be a challenge for the defence of the Men in Black.

Upfront, Ba needs to make every opportunity count and the side needs to stop relying too much on striker Osea Vakatalesau to allow him to play his game.

He seems to be pressured a bit too much at times which could have resulted in missed opportunities.

Otherwise Dutt is a master tactician and he knows the game too well.

All the best!

Quote of the week: "But this win will release the pressure off them. Osea was very instrumental up front. Time and again he made breaks providing the team with a lot of energy," Ba coach Dutt.

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