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Who’s Moving Where?

The Fiji Football Association’s January Transfer Window opened earlier this month. Districts, especially the rich and powerful, are moving quickly to strengthen their squad with the best available players in
11 Jan 2019 10:28
Who’s Moving Where?

The Fiji Football Association’s January Transfer Window opened earlier this month.

Districts, especially the rich and powerful, are moving quickly to strengthen their squad with the best available players in the market.

It is also Lautoka and Ba’s last chance to re­cruit new players for next month’s OFC Cham­pions League, the region’s top competition.

The Transfer Window is an ominous time for the so-called smaller districts in the country.

Their top players become easy pickings for bigger and more powerful districts, given the lack of financial resources.

In this ongoing column, SUNsports looks at the latest news and gossip from the January Window:

ANTONIO TUIVUNA: Suva to Labasa

The former Ba, Labasa and Nadi midfielder is on the move again.

The Northerners are aiming for a spot in next year’s OFC Champions League and head coach Johan Leewai wants to strengthen his squad with some key signings.

In the semi-final against Suva at last October’s Inter-district Championship, Labasa struggled to cope with the physicality of the Capital City side.

Tuivuna’s presence is seen as a solution to that.

Leewai’s pursuit of Tuivuna is a sign of in­tent from the former Labasa midfielder, who is tasked with restoring some lost glory.

ILIMOTAMA JESE: Nadi to Lautoka

Jese has been a defensive stalwart for Nadi and was one of the few standout performers in its trophy-less campaign last season.

It is no surprise that Lautoka, last year’s Vodafone Premier League, IDC and Pacific Cup winners, are after his services.

Sources have confirmed Jese has already be­gun training with Kamal Swamy’s Blues side, as preparations for next month’s OFC Champi­ons League gathers steam.

Lautoka were beaten by a young Ba team in the recent Champion vs Champion series, con­ceding three goals over two legs and scoring just once.

Swamy has moved quickly for Jese, with the OFC Champions League a major appeal factor, so the 28-year-old can have enough time to gel with the current squad.

ABBU ZAHID: Ba to Lautoka

Ba’s hero in the 2018 Battle of the Giants is just days away from confirming a transfer to neighbours Lautoka, sources say.

He will join Samuela Nabenia, who scored with Zahid in the 2-0 B.O.G triumph against Suva at Churchill Park in August last year.

The discovery of 19-year-old Solomon Island­er Darold Kakasi seemed to be a threat to Za­hid’s place in Ba’s starting 11.

He has gone to Lautoka seeking more game time but may struggle to find it due to the abun­dance of talent there.

It is hard to see where Zahid fits in Swamy’s starting line-up.

He may act as back-up to either Benjamin To­tori or Dave Radrigai, both hardworking play­makers who looked exhausted during the CvC after a long season.

However, Samuela Drudru’s finishing has been poor of late which gives Zahid, a proven goal-scorer, some hope at least.

KALIOVA DAU: Tavua to Ba

The 18-year-old striker, who is also known as Ratu Dau, has been impressive since emerging at the OFC Under-17 Championship in 2016.

Finishing was a major problem for the Men-in-Black last season, and Dau will be given the responsibility of correcting that.

Ba was linked with the youngster last season but the transfer did not materialise.

They have moved quickly to secure his servic­es after failing to adequately replace forward Nebania, and improve the misfiring Saula Waqa.

While Kakasi has been scoring, Ronil Ku­mar’s team will need goals from other sources to mount a serious challenge this season.

ANARE APENISA: Labasa to Suva

Suva’s head coach appointment of Intiaz Khan won’t be their last signing this month.

The Capital City side are after Labasa forward Apenisa, fondly known as Ratu Anare.

Apenisa will be brought in to give Napolioni Qasevakatini some much-needed help up front.

Former coach Gurjit Singh tried using Bruce Hughes with Qasevakatini but that combina­tion failed to spark.

Khan, on the other hand, wants a different ap­proach.

Suva also faces a battle to retain their top players, with sources telling SUNsports that Rewa is looking to recruit a host of their senior players this month.

MITIELI NAMUKA: Rewa to Nadi

Defensive midfielder Mitieli Namuka is said to be seeking a move away from Rewa.

His preferred desination is Nadi, with the Westerners looking to replace Latuoka-bound Jese with an able and experienced defensive recruit.

It is also rumoured that Rewa is looking to re­cruit a host of new players this month, a move Namuka may view as a threat to his place in Rewa’s starting 11.

More transfer news to follow tomorrow.

-Edited by Leone Cabenatabua

Feedback: sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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