Guest player Alexis Vaerla was the toast of the NZ Nasinu side when he netted the only goal after a series of short crisp passes, leaving the star-studded defence of NZ Rewa baffled to give light blue and maroon side their first taste of BOG title.
The young Nasinu brigade was ably supported by veteran player, former Suva and National rep William Lasaga from the goal keepers berth.
Lasaqa’s recruitment by Nasinu Manager Izaz Hussein from the International Veteran’s Tournament paid dividend when the experienced keeper saved two penalties each in the semi-final against Shaneel Prasad’s NZ Nadi side and in the quarterfinal against Hone Fowler led Fiji FACT 2011 champions NZ Ba FC.
The jubilant Nasinu officials, supporters and the cheering crowd were brought to their feet on many occasions with the splendid performances of youngsters Captain Milenko Basic, Imran Shah, brothers Anish and Amit, Alwin, Sheldon, Faizal, Fadeal and Maqsood.
Nasinu lifted the BOG crown in a grand style.
NZ Rewa had the benefit of former Rewa and National rep Waisake Sabutu, Sameer Ali, former Ba rep Keni Doidoi, Azam Ali, Mohammed Zaim, current Ba rep Josaia Bukalidi Junior and guest player Andy Ralph in the goal post.
The team started its campaign on a high note after a comfortable 2-nil semi-final win over Pita Rado led NZ Lautoka side.
However, the defence of Imran Shah, Amit Narayan, Sheldon Pillay, Faizal Ali and Fadeal Khan thwarted any possibility of the ball crossing the goal line.
Earlier, Rewa defeated former Ba and National rep and current Auckland City Salesh Kumar led Rakiraki side by 1-0.
After the match, Rakiraki team manager Ronald Mani and Anand Naicker performed the traditional South Indian, ‘Teru Koothu.’
Rewa played good football against the formidable Lautoka combination of Pita Rabo, Astley Lee, Imraz Shah, Craig Wylie, Daniel Culpan, Shazid Khan, Alexander Pratap, Soheb Sheik, Alfraz Sahib and Sohail Basha, edging them with goals from Mohammed Zaim and Michael Fifi.
Lautoka missed the services of their regular keeper Zaid Yusuf.
He was the hero of their win over the experienced NZ Tavua outfit led by Shameel Hakim and the Manukau Sanatan reps Sandeep Sandy, Krith Kumar, Shekar, Salen Nair and former Suva and National Captain Shalendra Lal in an electrifying semi-final which ended in a 2-all draw before the dreaded penalty kicks were taken to decide the finalist.
In the other quarterfinal, Nadi defeated the Labasa side by 4-0 but were later eliminated from the final spot by new champions Nasinu.
Organising Committee chairman James Kado and NZ Fiji AFC president Imran Mohammed acknowledged the services of a number of officials.
Among them were former Fiji FA vice-president and current life member Vijay Kumar, NZ FVSA president and former Fiji FA administrator, Satyawan Singh, NZFVSA founder Iliyaz Daud, Naushad Ali of ‘Get Fresh’ Otahuhu, NSW media reporter and Sydney Veterans liaison officer Ben Bhan Sharma, Veterans coordinator and Ayaaz Khan, life member of NZ Fiji AFC, Nur Ahmad.
The ‘Golden Boot Awards’ went to Pita Rabo of Lautoka, Sharveen Sharma of Ba and Razeen Mohammed of Labasa for scoring four goals each during the entire tournament.
The ‘Most Valuable Player of the Tournament Award’ went to 18-year old Anish Narayan, who played a grand game throughout the tournament. The nippy mid- fielder and striker stood out against his taller opponents and showed the class that could easily secure him a place in All Whites under 19 in the future.
Another player knocking on the All Whites door is Imran Shah of Nasinu, who is in top form. Playing from sweepers berth, he moved forward to help get the equaliser in the semi-final against Nadi side.
Gyanandra Kumar is Secretary of NZ Fiji AFC based in Auckland