Sydney Nalawa BV (Black Virus) edged out defending champion Hamilton to win the Billy Singh Memorial Cup for Over 40s in the Tournament held over the Auckland Anniversary weekend at the new Mangere Park Sports Stadium.
Former Lautoka player Mark Thoman was the main architect of the Nalawa victory. He scored from the spot kick to secure the win.
Although the Hamilton side boasted of star players like former Suva and Fiji rep Ami Chand Nair, Nukul Deo, Meli Nacalevu and Bill Baleidrokadroka, they failed to make good of the available opportunities. Poor defence and inaccurate shots at the goal post were responsible for their downfall.
Nalawa stuck to their game plan and while the defense of former Fiji and Ba rep Shiu Sami was in form, Mark Thoman and former Ba rep Christopher Raj had a field day in the attacking department.
Thoman scored from the sport kick midway in the first half after the Hamilton defence opted for a crude tackle on Suresh Benjamin.
Nalawa captain Master Rajesh Sharma commended the Hamliton side, describing them as ‘great opposition.’
“It is a great honour for us to win this Cup and the boys have done Nalawa proud,” he said.
“We will be back to defend the cup next year and on the same token, would like to thank the orgainsers for putting up a great tournament and the fans were great.”
In the semi-finals, Nalawa beat archrivals Sydney Ba 1-0, while Hamilton had to fight hard to win on penalty shootout 6-5 against a determined Nadroga side led by Krishna Lal and Raj Mani [Barre]
Nalawa BV took the Billy Singh Cup and $2000 cash and Gold medals for their troubles, while Hamilton got $500 for being Runners-Up and Silver medals for their efforts.
The Tournament was well received by the patrons who enjoyed not only the festive atmosphere but the brand new facilities.
There was a lot of talk about the tournament being sabotaged by teams not turning up, but all the Sydney teams that had pledged, were present, proving critics wrong.
Money cannot buy soccer.
I spoke the following words to a few at the Tournament:
“Those egocentric and power hungry rivals should now know that soccer is played with passion and pride and no money can buy this lovely game that we all enjoy. The solidarity shown by the Sydney teams should serve as a lesson to those that went all out in the middle of the night trying to buy off teams. Professionalism and transparency will emerge as victors.”
Other award winners:
Over 40s: Highest Goal Scorer: Ratu Filimone [Hamilton]; Most Valuable Player: Nakul Deo [Hamilton];
Over 35s: Highest Goal Scorer: Abdul Janif (Sydney Combine); Most Valuable Player: Shalen Nair (NZ Ba); Best Goalkeeper: Luke Tavuyara (Sydney BA);
Manager of the Tournament: Ratish Swamy (Sydney Navua)
Fair Play Award : NZ Suva Masters
Ayaaz Khan is the Secretary of the NZ Fiji Veteran Soccer Association. See related story