Labasa breaks BOG jinx

Labasa soccer Team celebrates after winning the Inkk Mobile Battle of the Giants Tournament Final against Lautoka at Churchill Park last night. Picture: REINAL CHAND

FORMER Lautoka rep Siotama Kubu broke the hearts of the home fans as he chipped the ball over Lautoka goalkeeper Beniamino Mateinaqara to earn Labasa a 1-0 victory in the final of the Inkk Mobile Battle of the Giants at Churchill Park yesterday.

Kubu who moved to Labasa from the Sugar City last year, timed his shot to perfection in the 79th minute after seeing Mateinaqara way out of position.

The lanky striker was named as the player of the tournament.

Kubu dedicated the victory to his son Tevita Tuinawaibuvu who turns one on August 23.

The victory was sweet for the Babasiga Lions as the side ended a 22 winless jinx in the BOG.

Lautoka went into the match as the favourites having thrashed Suva 4-1 in the semi-final but could not continue on the momentum into the match that mattered the most.

Labasa took home $17,000 for winning the title and was also named as the best and fairest team.

Labasa goalkeeper Akuila Mateisuva was handed the golden glove award after keeping a clean sheet throughout the tournament.

The last time Labasa won the BOG title was back in 1997.

Labasa coach Ronil Lal who also guided the northerners to the 2016 Inter District Championship victory said he felt like being on top of the world.

Lal said the players did a great job.

“They were camping in Suva and then we had to travel to Labasa because of the postponements,” he said.

“They went through the hardships and deserve the glory. This win has been a long time coming and the officials put in a lot of hard work behind the scene.”

Despite the loss, Lautoka coach Anginesh Prasad was not disappointed with the result.

“I’m happy with how the boys played because before the tournament no one gave us the chance to reach the final,” Prasad said.

“I would like to apologise to all our fans for not winning the title. We were ready but unfortunately, it was not our day.

“We now have to go back and analyse our shortfall.”

Prasad said the aim was to finish in the top two in the Vodafone Premier League to qualify for next year’s Oceania Football Confederation Champions League.

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