Caption: Victory is ours… The victorious Rewa team with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Fiji FA officials after their win yesterday. Photo: ANUSHIL KUMAR.
By ANUSHIL KUMAR
Rewa won its 6th Battle of the Giants title as they defeated Design Engineering Lautoka 2-1 in a mouth-watering grand finale at the ANZ Stadium in Suva yesterday, August 31.
As expected, the match started on a high as both teams started their battle for the title from the first whistle blown by referee Andrew Achari.
The Delta Tigers took an early lead through defender Simione Maikali, who scored the opener from the spot kick in the 11th minute after defender Poasa Bainivalu handled the ball in the Lautoka box as Rewa enjoyed a 1-nil lead at the breather.
The ‘boys in blue’ equalised in the 50th minute after a long range acute angle attempt from Isikeli Jeke Keli came off the left post and landed on replacement Leisari Qalica’s feet, who neatly placed the ball into an empty net as goalkeeper Simione Tamanisau was beaten on the first occasion.
And the winner came in the 83rd minute as a quick corner kick from Misaele Draunibaka to an unmarked Garish Prasad, who swung in with a well-timed cross as Hughes came in with a first time volley which gave diving Senirusi Bokini no chance at all as the sea of red fans went into jubilation.
“When I saw the ball coming towards me, I was confident to put it at the back of the net because I have practised that back at home,” said the nineteen-year-old goal scorer from Dreketi, who later received the Golden Ball award being the best player throughout the tournament.
Winning coach Marika Rodu was overjoyed after the final whistle and said their two-year development plan finally paid off.
“We were not winning for the past two years in the struggle to get players developed.
“I think every insurance policy has a maturity date and I can say that our insurance got matured today,” Rodu said.
Lautoka coach Lambert Sarju described the winning goal as a class and credited his youngsters for fighting until the final whistle.
“Hats off to these young players for what they have achieved. They fought a losing battle and didn’t give up despite down by 2-1,” Sarju said.
“The winless drought stays. We thought we will take the title back this year but it was not in our way and we have to wait for another year to end it.” he added.
Rewa walked away with the $11,000 prize money and the trophy, Lautoka received $4,000 being the runners up while Suva, who defeated Ba 2-1 in the 3rd/4th place play-offs, received $1,500.
Meanwhile, Setareki Hughes was named the best player of the tournament while Suva’s Inia Boko received the Golden Boot award for being the top goal scorer with five goals.