Blues on top
31 July, 2017, 12:00 am
THE Kamal Swamy coached Lautoka side is on track to qualify for the 2018 OFC Champions League after beating Rakiraki 4-0 in the Vodafone Premier League clash at Churchill Park yesterday.
With the victory, the Oceania Water Group-sponsored Blues extended their unbeaten run to nine matches in the VPL.
It was a huge sigh of relief for the Sugar City side after the disappointing penalty shootout loss to Nadi in the semi-final of the Inkk Battle of the Giants at the same venue last week.
Lautoka drew with Rakiraki 1-all in round one of the VPL and it seemed a similar result would be on the card for the return fixture until Dave Radrigai opened the host’s account in the 37th minute with a sublime shot from outside the box.
Rakiraki missing a few experienced players stood up well to the challenge but lost steam at the end.
Samuela Drudru scored Lautoka’s second goal with a header in the 58th minute.
Leisari Qalica made it 3-0 after showing good dribbling skills inside the Rakiraki box in the 87th minute while replacement Navneel Nand sealed the win in the dying stages.
The loss is a big blow for Rakiraki in their bid to maintain their status in the Premier Division.
This was Rakiraki’s ninth loss in ten games.
Rakiraki president Shaneel Gounder said they had a huge task ahead. He said the boys failed to keep up the momentum in the second half.
“There are a couple of matches remaining which we wish to host in Rakiraki,” Gounder said.
“We haven’t hosted games on home soil which has been a drawback for the side.”
Lautoka Football Association president Abdul Kadar said they earned the three points which they were after.
Kadar said the focus would turn to the home games against Dreketi and Labasa this weekend.
“The upcoming games are important,” he said.
“We struggled against Rakiraki in the first half. I believe the boys were a bit frustrated. We are developing our youth boys.
“Navneel has come from that stage and is now scoring goals for the senior team.
“There are a few games left and we cannot afford to lose our composure as the Oceania Champions League status is at stake.”
Meanwhile Labasa moved to second place on the VPL points table after the 4-0 win against Rewa at Subrail Park yesterday.
“It was sweet revenge for the Babasiga Lions after losing 1-0 to the Delta Tigers in the semi-final of the BOG.
In another VPL match yesterday, Suva downed Dreketi 2-0.
Lautoka 25, Labasa 20, Suva 18, Ba 16, Rewa 15, Nadi 13, Dreketi 4, Rakiraki 1.