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Top four

Rashneel Kumar
Thursday, August 28, 2014

IT'S down to the top four now.

The competition at the Inkk Mobile Battle of the Giants soccer tournament is expected to hit another level as teams will give their all to remain in the race at the ANZ Stadium this weekend.

It will be a battle of the neighbours in the semi-finals this Saturday.

First up, Suva takes on Rewa at 3pm followed by the Western derby between Ba and Lautoka at 5pm.

Whatever the outcome in these two matches, one thing is guaranteed, it will be a Western-Southern final in this year's BOG.

According to the Fiji Football Association, 20 goals were scored in the group stage of the competition.

There were 12 matches played in the preliminary rounds so that's an average of 1.67 goals per game.

Tournament favourites Suva and Ba emerged the highest scorers so far.

The Whites thumped Nadroga 4-0 while Ba had its Vodafone Fiji FACT revenge beating Labasa 4-1.

Many football pundits predict a Suva versus Ba final, here's Offside's take on the semi-finals:

Suva versus Rewa

The return of Simione Tamanisau has surely ignited the Delta Tigers.

After a lacklustre performance in the Fiji FACT and the opening rounds of the National Football League, Rewa seems to have found that rhythm that has been lacking in the side for a while.

Goalkeeper Tamanisau has guarded his area well, he has also been a great motivator for the new players in the side.

Rewa lacked a leader such as Tamanisau and his return has surely boosted the morale of the team.

Rewa is yet to concede a goal having beaten Labasa and Nadi by 1-0.

The Marika Rodu-coached side kept Ba scoreless in the other group match.

With players such as veteran Lorima Dau and Simione Maikali in defence with youngsters Misaele Draunibaka, Akash Singh, Epeli Saukuru, Setareki Hughes, Tevita Waranivalu and Savenaca Nakalevu in the mix, Rewa has the players to win this tournament.

Suva, without a doubt, is the most consistent team this season.

The Gurjit Singh-coached side lost in the Fiji FACT final, maintains its lead in the national league points table with only two losses so far and enters the BOG semis with maximum points from the group stage.

Veteran Pita Rabo is the heart of the Suva side and has immensely contributed to the strengthening of their midfield play.

He has been marshalling the young Suva side with great enthusiasm and his leadership skills on the field is second to none.

With Rabo in the midfield, Suva will surely struggle upfront. But with players such as Ravinesh Karan Singh, Nickel Chand, Inia Boko upfront and Emori Ragata, Dave Radrigai, Waisake Navunigasau, Leone Damudamu and Kolinio Sivoki in defence, Suva is a team to beat in this tournament.

Coach Singh is the best in what he does and his tactical moves will surely pose a real danger to Rewa and its defenders.

Verdict - Suva to win by a goal.

Ba versus Lautoka

Ba is hard to stop when it gets into the knockout stages.

Despite being without a coach, the Men in Black have managed to maintain their deadly form and emerged as the hot favourites for the BOG title after a grand performance in the latter stages of the group competition.

It has a host of Vodafone Fiji U20 players Narendra Rao, Samuela Nabenia, Saula Waqa, Misiwani Nairube, Praneel Naidu and Jonetani Buksh and seasoned campaigners Avinesh Suwamy, Roneel Kumar, Kiniviliame Naika, Maveliko Nakama, Jone Vesikula and Abbu Zahid in the team.

Ba has an excellent mix of young and experienced players to defend the title.

Lautoka will head into the match as the underdogs and will need to dig deep to create a major upset against Ba.

Coach Lambert Sarju has made significant changes in the team and managed to record some wins in the lead up to the BOG.

Led by midfield general Alvin Avinesh, the Sugar City side have a talented squad with players such as Iliesa Lino, Zibraaz Sahib, Kavaia Rawaqa, Josefata Dugucagi, Isikeli Jeke Keli, Jone Vono Junior and Maika Waqa leading the campaign.

It will be a tough ask for Lautoka but not impossible.

Verdict — Ba to win by two goals.

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