Blues sets target

Beniamino Mataniqara during training for the Lautoka soccer side at Fiji Football Academy in Ba yesterday. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

THE biggest lesson learnt by the Lautoka Football Association officials in the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Champions League is how to manage the players and their attitude towards the game. The Blues copped a massive blow after star striker Samuela Drudru was found in breach of the OFC disciplinary code article 56 on racism following his red card in the semi-final against Marist FC.

Article 56 states: Anyone who publicly disparages, discriminates against or denigrates someone in a defamatory manner on account of race, colour, language, religion or ethnic origin will be subject to match suspension for at least five (5) matches at every level. Drudru has also been fined more than $10,000.

Lautoka Football Association president Abdul Kadar said a lot of lessons had been learnt in their OFC Champions League campaign both on and off the field.

Kadar said the OFC Champions League was a different level of competition which required a lot of professionalism.

“The recent incident has been a learning experience for all of us,” he said.

“It comes down to how the players are managed. We need to realise the player’s attitude towards the match. We are not sure what Drudru said but we do not condone any form of racism.”

“For the future OFC Champions League competition we now know how to do things better.”

Meanwhile Lautoka faces an uphill battle against Team Wellington in the second leg of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Champions League final at Churchill Park this Sunday.

The Blues went down to Team Wellington 6-0 in the first leg last week and needs to upset the visitors by seven clear goals to win the regional competition and book a historic place in the FIFA World Club Championship in the United Arab Emirates in December.

The Sugar City side will also be without midfielder Praneel Naidu who is on automatic suspension following his red card last Sunday. Lautoka resumed training yesterday upon arrival from New Zealand on Monday.

The side has shifted training to the Fiji Football Association Academy ground in Ba as Churchill Park is closed in preparation for this Sunday’s clash at 2pm.

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