24 October, 2016, 12:00 am
THE people of Rakiraki are in celebration mode after their football team was promoted to premier division yesterday.
This means that from next year Rakiraki will be playing in major football tournaments such as the Vodafone Fiji FACT, Inkk Mobile Battle of the Giants, Courts Inter-District Championship and the Vodafone Premier League.
Fiji FA CEO Bob Kumar confirmed to Times Sport that the West senior champs will join the top flight from next year.
Rakiraki which became a town on Thursday July 1, 2010, have sealed their place in next year’s major football competitions after beating Bua 1-0 at the Fiji Football Association grounds in Vatuwaqa, Suva, yesterday.
It was a total turnaround for Rakiraki which lost to Bua earlier this year in the Courts IDC in the final pool games by 3-2.
Their lone goal yesterday came from Asaeli Cobuta who executed a calculated move to score his goal from just outside the penalty box.
Rakiraki, as Western Division champ, participated in the promotion play-offs which consisted of Lami (Central Division champion), and Bua (Northern Division).
Coach Pragdeesh Gounder said: “It’s celebration time for us now, but after we will go back home and we will have discussions and meetings with the people back in Ra and then we will move forward.”
He said they would maintain their current players and they would all progress together to the premier division.
“We are looking forward to next year’s competition to be playing at top level football.”
Meanwhile, Bua coach Suresh Sharma said they played well, but were unlucky to have conceded the goal.
“It was a big exposure for some of my young boys and it was a huge experience for us and even though we are the champion team in the North, but I think we still need more exposure to these types of competition,” Sharma said.
Tailender of the Vodafone Premier league standings Nadroga is expected to be replaced by Rakiraki. Rakiraki had the services of former Ba rep Ronald Lawrence and former Lautoka and former national striker Salesh Sami Bula.