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Lions roar

Rashneel Kumar
Monday, August 04, 2014

SUVA'S eight match unbeaten run in the National Football League (NFL) competition came to an end yesterday.

A feisty second half performance from Labasa handed the Northerners a 2-1 win over the Whites at the ANZ Stadium in Suva.

The Fiji Sun/Skipper Tuna NFL leaders Suva took an early lead from a classic Inia Boko goal in the 13th minute but failed to increase on their advantage despite a number of scoring opportunities.

Both teams went into the break with the Capital City side on a slender 1-0 lead.

Labasa coach Bal Sanju Reddy switched from the 5-4-1 defending to 3-5-2 attacking formation and it worked wonders for the side.

Forwards Edwin Sahayam, Jesoni Takala, Joseph Mishra, Christopher Wasasala and Ilisoni Logaivou penetrated well into the Suva defence and created back to back goals in the opening quarter of the second spell.

Former Navua striker Takala equalised and couple minute's later youngster Wasasala scored another to give Labasa the 2-1 lead. Suva tried hard to come back in the game but strong defensive play from Labasa and later a red card to Jale Dreloa hurt their chances.

Dreloa, who will miss the match against Nadi this weekend, was given the marching orders for slapping Wasasala in the crucial final quarter of the match.

Coach Reddy said they left Labasa with the mission to end Suva's unbeaten run.

"To come and play our home game in Suva and beating Suva on their home turf, I think that was the biggest achievement for us," Reddy said.

"At the break, I told the boys we need to maintain possession and I could see that we could penetrate the Suva defence because they were casual at the back and that's where we tried to punch them up."

Suva coach Gurjit Singh said the loss was "a wake up call for his players".

He added the players have to change their mind-set and give their best to make up for this loss in the upcoming games.

"I guess it's a good lesson for them. I think this week, they were too sure and this is something that will get into their heads that they can't take any game lightly. We still have a long way to go," said a disappointed Singh.

Despite the loss, Suva maintains a healthy lead on the points table with 24 points after nine matches followed by Ba, which has played an extra match, on 22 points.

Nadi and Labasa, which have played 10 matches, are on third and fourth places with 21 and 16 points, respectively.

In the other matches played yesterday, Ba defeated Lautoka 1-0, Rewa overcame Navua 1-0 and Nadi drew with Nadroga 1-all.

Suva: Emori Raqata, Kolinio Suvuki, Leone Damudamu, Jale Dreloa, Pita Rabo (C), Nickel Chand, Ravinesh Karan Singh, Abdul Mosheem, Shahil Dave, Inia Boko, Antonio Tuivuna

Labasa: Epeli Loaniceva, Sandeep Nair, Apisalome Turuva (C), Paulo Posiano, Krishneel Krishna. Taione Kerevanua, Iisoni Logaivou, Edwin Sahayam, Jesoni Takala, Joseph Mishra, Christopher Wasasala.

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