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Rewa victory

Rashneel Kumar
Monday, September 01, 2014

WHEN Lautoka fans thought the 29-year winless drought in the Inkk Mobile Battle of the Giants would finally end, Rewa's Setareki Hughes struck.

That strike in the 83rd minute of the showdown at the ANZ Stadium in Suva yesterday not only prolonged the Sugar City's winless run in the tournament but also marked the rise of the newest sensation in domestic football.

Rewa defeated Lautoka 2-1 to win its sixth BOG title.

Nineteen-year-old Hughes, who is part of the Vodafone Fiji under-20 team to the first-ever FIFA U20 World Cup in New Zealand next year, has stamped his mark as one of the top forwards in the country.

The Dreketi teenager, who normally features on the left flank, scored one of the finest goals of the tournament from the volley at the edge of the Lautoka box.

A quick corner kick from Misaele Draunibaka to another Fiji U20 rep Garish Prasad, who provided the well-timed pass to Hughes and he made no mistake, slamming it to the right of the diving Senirusi Bokini to send the sea of fans waving red in jubilation.

The Delta Tigers took the lead through defender Simione Maikali, who scored the opener from the spot kick in the 11th minute after Poasa Bainivalu handled the ball in the Lautoka penalty area.

The westerners equalised in the 50th minute after an attempt from Isikeli Jeke Keli came off the left post and landed on replacement Leisari Qalica's feet, who nudged the ball past the beaten Simione Tamanisau.

Both teams went hard on attack in the remainder of the second spell with Lautoka dominating possession but the goal from Hughes was enough to seal the match.

"When I saw the ball coming towards me, I was confident to put it at the back of the net because I have practised that back at home," said Hughes who later received the Golden Ball award for his outstanding performance in the tournament.

"It's a great feeling to win the first tournament and I want to dedicate this to my parents, fans and officials of Rewa football."

Lautoka coach Lambert Sarju admitted the winning goal was a class and hailed his players for fighting until the end.

He said Lautoka would be a side to reckon with in the future.

"Hats off to these young players for what they have achieved. They fought a losing battle and didn't give up despite down by 2-1," Sarju said.

"The winless drought stays. We thought we will take the title back this year but it was not in our way and we have to wait for another year to end it."

Rewa coach Marika Rodu said their two-year development plan was finally bearing fruit.

"We were not winning for the past two years in the struggle to get players developed.

"I think every insurance policy has a maturity date and I can say that our insurance got matured today," Rodu said.

Rewa received $11,000 after the win while Lautoka settled for $4000.

Suva which defeated Ba 2-1 in the third place playoff managed $1500.

Suva striker Inia Boko received the Golden Boot award after scoring five goals.





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