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Men in Black on track

Offside With Rashneel Kumar
Thursday, April 17, 2014

IT must have been a brilliant week for Ba football and its fans but not so for the Nadi ones.

The group stage of the Oceania Football Confederation Champions League played at Govind Park, Ba and Churchill Park, Lautoka finished on Tuesday and only four remain in the competition.

Fiji's Ba, which topped Group C after winning two and drawing one, will face Vanuatu's Amicale FC in the semi-final.

Amicale FC topped Group B, which had defending champions Auckland City on nine points followed by the New Zealand club on six points. Tahiti's AS Pirae, probably the best performing team in the competition so far, finished on top of Group A on nine points and will face Auckland City in the other semis.

While there is disappointment among the Nadi fans following their dismal outing in the regional competition, the best Kamal Swamy and his men can do now is take the positives out of this experience.

Nadi, which failed to score a point, conceded the second highest number of goals on 14.

Maybe what was more disappointing about them was their indiscipline.

Nadi bowed out as one of the most indisciplined teams collecting three red and three yellow cards in their three group stage matches.

The red carded trio with one spitting at an opposing player had their cases referred to full quorum of OFC Disciplinary Committee.

When the team lost 0-3 to Auckland City, many thought Nadi would come back firing to ensure maximum points in their remaining matches against Amicale FC and AS Dragon but they slumped further.

Local football pundits believe it maybe because of the players' inexperience in such intense competition.

It sounds like a valid excuse but some of those tackles were totally outrageous.

Nadi was simply not ready for this competition but come next season, if they qualify, the side should be able to do better.

Auckland City, which almost bombed out of the competition but saved by AS Pirae after the Tahitians defeated Waitakere United 3-1, will surely come back stronger in the semi-final which starts on April 26 and will be played on home and away basis.

Nothing can be taken away from AS Pirae and Amicale FC as both teams were impressive so far.

They maybe the underdogs in the eyes of many but surely a force to reckon with.

Ba has a good chance of creating history of becoming the first Fiji team to make the FIFA world event. But it will not be easy.

It gets tougher from here.

For Men in Black, it's time to prove they are the best!





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