Former Lautoka player Isimeli Naresia proved to be the Ba Team hero scoring the opening goal against Navua and guide the Men in Black to their 16th National Football League victory in Ba, Fiji on Sunday (September 26).
Ba defeated Navua 2-1 in an exciting match held at Govind Park, watched by more than 5000 enthusiastic fans.
Energiser 4R Electric Ba needed the win to edge defending champion Weet-Bix Shop N Save Lautoka to top the National Football League points table.
Naresia thwarted the hope of the Men in Blue for a back-to-back title with a clinical finish in the first spell.
In the second half, Naresia claimed Ba’s penalty powered by Avinesh Waran Suwamy.
Ba finished with 51 points, while Lautoka lagged with 50 points.
The victory gave Ba the NFL title and Fiji’s spot in the 2011/2012 O League.
The loss to Navua did not alter their placing in the competition with the southerners claiming third spot.
It was a disappointing finish for the Blues fans who had turned up in numbers at Govind Park expecting a better fight from the visitors.
Navua coach Gurjeet Singh expressed disappointment over the loss, blaming his players for lack of urgency.
He said his player did not stick to the game plan and displayed ordinary soccer.
“They were just not in the game. They did not play to their potential. The boys surely lacked urgency,” he said.
Ba looked impressive in both attack and defence in front of their home fans.
Navua lacked the killer instincts in attack with their strikers finding it hard to penetrate the Ba defence marshalled by veteran Malakai Kainihewe until the final quarter.
Ba coach and former National Representative Farouk Janeman said they staged a late rally to reclaim the NFL title which they lost in 2008.
“The boys were focused from the start. The message was clear after we beat Nasinu on September 24. I am satisfied with the result but the boys could have done better. They knew a win was important to qualify for the ‘O League.’ We have one year to prepare for the big game,” he said.
Naresia opened Ba’s account in the 21st minute following a Petero Dauniseka cross.
Ba led 1-0 at half time.
Suwamy doubled Ba’s advantage in the 58th minute from the spot kick.
Joseph Mishra pulled one back for the visitors with a powerful drive in the 76th minute.
Ba: Jone Ralulu, Malakai Kainihewe, Jone Vesikula, Manueli Kalou, Avinesh Suwamy, Roneel Kumar, Kiniviliame Naika, Petero Daunkiseka, Isimeli Naresia, Kitione Tabaiwalu, Meli Codro.
Navua: Benaminio Mateinaqara, Lorima Dau, Seveci Rokotakala, Pene Erenio, Taniela Waqa, Sedrick Dutt, Simione Maikali, Siga Ali, Jesoni Takala, Maciu Dunadamu, Elliot Ragomo.
Editor’s Note: The ‘O League’ is short for Oceania Football Federation Championship League, in which eight teams from seven countries will contest for the Title Champion. The winner will then qualify to represent the Federation at the FIFA Club 2011 World Cup.
Anil Amin, Vice-President of Ba Football Association in Fiji writes:
With dedication and self-confidence, the Men in Black proved all critics wrong to claim the National League Title, winning the right to play in the 2011- 2012 ‘O League.’
After the excellent game against Waitakere United in Auckland on September 18, the boys kept focused on the assignment back in Fiji for the two remaining League matches against Nasinu and Navua. Finally, they delivered, beating Nasinu 5-0 and Navua 2-1.
The team is now focusing on the IDC and faces a lot of pressure to win the tournament.
Ba is a name in soccer not only in Fiji but also around the world and it is a challenge for the management to run the team on scarce financial resources.
Ahemad Bhamji of Auckland donated $2002 during the Carnival to promote the game and fundraising activities.
The Ba Team is now in training camp and funds are required to keep the players in good shape to win the IDC Tournament.
Donations may be sent to Ahemad Bhamji, who can be contacted on 021-786888.