Island News

Thoman secures Nalawa win

Written By : AYAAZ KHAN Indian Weekender. More than 2500 spectators were at the finals of the Veterans Soccer Tournament at Centre Park on Monday. Former Lautoka utility Mark Thoman
04 Feb 2011 12:00

image Written By : AYAAZ KHAN Indian Weekender.
More than 2500 spectators were at the finals of the Veterans Soccer Tournament at Centre Park on Monday.
Former Lautoka utility Mark Thoman scored from the spot kick to secure the finals win over defending Billy Singh Memorial Cup NZ holders Hamilton at the new Mangere Park Sports Stadium on Monday.
Although defending champions Hamilton had the likes of former Suva and Fiji rep Ami Chand Nair and seasoned players in Nukul Deo, Meli Debalevu and Bill Baleidrokadroka started well in the finals, they failed to take their oppournities.
Missed opportunites, poor defence coupled with inaccurate shots at goal downplayed any chances of the champions to retain the title.
Nalawa stuck to their game plan and while the defence of former Fiji and Ba rep Shiu Sami took toll, Mark Thoman and former Ba rep Christopher Raj had a field day in the attacking department.
Thoman scored from the spot kick mid-way in the first half after the Hamilton defence opted for a crude tackle on Suresh Benjiman. With a one goal advantage, the Nalawa side opted for possossion rather than attack and it paid off in the end.
Nalawa captain Rajesh Sharma commended the Hamliton side, adding they were a great opposition.
“It’s a great honour for us to win this cup and the boys have done Nalawa proud,” said Sharma.
Sharma said the Nalawa side had trained hard for the tournament and winning the cup on New Zealand soil tasted sweeter.
“We will be back to defend the cup next year and in the same token, would like to thank the orgainsers for putting up a great tournament and the fans here in NZ were great.”
Former Fiji, Labasa and Suva rep Ambichand Nair played a pivotal role for the Hamilton side but could not beat the determination of the Nalawa side from Sydney ably led by Shalendra Jattan, Master Rajesh Sharma and former Fiji rep Shiu Sami, while upfront Christopher Raj and Mark Thoman created havoc for the Hamilton defence.
In the semi-finals, Nalawa BV accounted for their arch-rivals Sydney Ba by 1-0 while Hamilton had to fight hard to win on penalty shoot-out 6-5 against a determined Nadroga side led by Krishna Lal and Raj Mani [Barre]
Nalawa BV lifted the Billy Singh Cup and $2000 prizemoney with gold medals while Hamilton got $500 for being runners-up and silver medals.
The tournament a first at the new Centre Park Stadium was well received by the patrons who enjoyed not only the festive atmosphere but the brand new facilities.
There were heaps of praise for the organisers from all Sydney teams and spectators and were entertained to some brilliant football by former stalwarts.
There was a lot of talk about the tournament being sabotaged by teams not turning up, but all the Sydney teams that had pledged turned up in numbers and proved critics wrong.
As the secretary and tournament organiser Ayaaz Khan put it: “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.
“By the solidarity shown by the Sydney teams this should serve as a lesson to those who went all out in the middle of the night trying to buy off teams.
Professionalism and transparency will emerge victors as you can fool some people sometime but not everyone every time.”

The 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

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