Caption: Esy Kool Nadi’s captain Eliki Ravosai tussles against NZ All Stars Valerio Nawatu during their second pool encounter. Photo: MARGARET NAQIRI.
By ANUSHIL KUMAR in Sydney
November 21, 2014. NZFFI All Stars created the biggest upset of the Pacific Cup 2014 as they defeated the defending champions Esy Kool Nadi 2-1 in the first match of day 2 earlier this afternoon.
The Jetsetters, who was tagged as the match favourites prior to the kick-off, started the game well with duo strikers Samuela Drudru and Jolame Vukivuki applied early pressure while midfielders William Valentine, Shafim Buksh, Vuniuci Tikomaimereke and Lekima Gonerau controlled play in the midfield.
New Zealand All Stars took advantage of the counter attacks as a foul on a NZ player midway into the Nadi territory saw Valerio Nawatu heading in the first goal for the ‘Boys in White’.
Keegan Linderboom doubled the advantage for the All Stars with a pile-driving penalty kick after a surprising call by the match referee as they led 2-0 at the breather.
Nadi came back firing into the second half as veteran Ratu Veresa Toma pulled one back for the Greens with his long range powerful shot which saw goalkeeper finding it difficult to stop the ball.
Duo upfront Samuela Drudru and replacement striker Gerard Ouffoue tried every possible ways to change the score-board, however that could not happen.
NZ All Stars president Neelesh Ram commended the boys for a great performance even though they had a short time to prepare.
“It was a good game. We take each game at a time. We had a very short time to prepare for this game, but I think my boys did exceptionally well.”
Nadi coach Kamal Swamy blamed the referee for the loss and was really upset on the way he controlled the match.
“I think referees are just pathetic over here. They do not want Fiji teams to win. What happened to Ba last night, same thing happened to Nadi tonight.
“I don’t think that was a foul in fact (free kick which led to first goal) and the second one was a free kick to Nadi but unfortunately he gave a penalty and that is referee’s fault.
“Its not Nadi’s fault, it is the referee that has made them (NZ All Stars) win.
The Esy Kool Nadi side will battle its arch-rivals 4R Electrical Ba in the feature match of day 3 at 11.55pm (Fiji time) while NZ All Stars will face hosts AFFA All Stars at 9.15pm before the official opening.