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Nadi again

Rashneel Kumar
Monday, June 30, 2014

THERE wasn't much beauty about the "beautiful game" in the Vodafone Fiji FACT showdown at Ratu Cakobau Park in Nausori yesterday. But the moment that defined the fate of the Nadi versus Suva clash was probably the most attractive feature in the scrappy affair.

Both teams were locked at nil-all at the end of 90 minutes and it was in the 104th minute when defending champions Nadi nailed the winner.

Amani Makoe blasted home the winner from outside the 18-yard box after collecting a neat pass from striker Samuela Drudru to help the Jetsetters glide past the Capital City side with the 1-0 win.

It wasn't the perfect win for Nadi but A win nevertheless. It was the victory the team had been waiting for to redeem themselves since the dismal performance in the Oceania Football Confederation Champions League.

Nadi Football president Navneeda Goundar said they were mocked for their nonperformance in the OFC Champions League.

"After the O-League, everybody rated Nadi as a low team. People used to tease us at the grounds and everywhere but we made a promise to the boys and ourselves to come back and win this tournament," said Goundar whose return as the Nadi president has brought back fame to the district.

The South Seas Logistics Suva was the favourites to win the tournament after the group stage competition. The Gurjit Singh-coached side also defeated Kamal Swamy's Nadi 1-0 in the group stage.

The Shop N Save Nadi became the overnight favourites after a brilliant effort in the semi-final where the side defeated Ba 2-0.

Playing the 3-4-3 formation, Nadi used the flanks to pile the pressure on Suva defence but failed to penetrate through the sturdy Whites wall. The team's only long range attempt was the stupendous strike from Makoe.

Nadi coach Swamy said they did some positional changes before the extra time play and that paid off.

"We knew Suva would be coming out in the extra time because they don't want to go to penalty shootout. We worked on Amani Makoe because when he was in front, he was all crowded by Suva defenders so we changed him to centre back position to come up and take shots and he did it.

"It's not me who has done this as we have the saying in the team and association, we did it. It involves all the coaches and the management and one of the trainers, Master Filipe of Nadi rugby team, the credit goes to him for the fitness level and the vanua for their support.

Suva missed Nickel Chand, who was on suspension for the red card in the 2-1 win over Labasa in the semis, badly and lacked co-ordination in attack.

Coach Singh said they had the opportunities but the players failed to take them. He was also disappointed with the foul play from the Nadi players.

Nadi received $15,000 for the win which will be shared among the players while Suva settled for $4000. Suva skipper Ravinesh Karan Singh received the Golden Boot award while Nadi stopper Benaminio Matainaqara was named the Player of the Tournament.

Labasa, which defeated Ba 3-0, received $1500 for finishing third.





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