OFC Champions League: Ba FC Must Win Today

"Ba coach Ronil Kumar has rightly described the match – scheduled for 6pm (Fiji Time) – as “the most im­portant for us at this tournament.”
26 Feb 2019 16:18
OFC Champions League: Ba FC Must Win Today
Ba players from left: Simione Nabenu, Mohammed Shazil and Savenaca Nakalevu before the match against Team Wellington on February 23, 2019. Photo: OFC Media

There are plenty reasons for Vodafone Ba to be confident ahead of today’s crucial OFC Champions League encounter against Erakor Golden Star in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Ba coach Ronil Kumar has rightly described the match – scheduled for 6pm (Fiji Time) – as “the most im­portant for us at this tournament.”

If Ba fails to get three points, the morale boosting performance in the 2-0 opening day loss to defend­ing champions Team Wellington would have been for nothing.

There was some support for Ba among the Vanuatu crowd against Wellington, but the Fijians will not receive similar affection when they face the home team at Korman Sta­dium.

The heat will also be a factor, with temperatures consistently averag­ing above 30 degrees.

Against Wellington, sloppy de­fending and poor closing down by Ba’s midfielders decided the con­test despite the westerners’ much-improved second half showing.

Kumar’s team cannot afford to make similar mistakes against the Golden Star, given the tournament-defining nature of the match.

“It is already a must win game for us, we need all the points if we want to qualify for the next stage,” Kumar told OFC media.

“This match could be the most important for us at this tourna­ment. It’s crucial we improve and learn from the mistakes from our first match against Wellington, (be­cause) it will be a very tough match and we will need to be focussed.”

Ba’s attacking trio of Abbu Zahid, Kaliova Dau and Mohammed Shaz­il Ali toiled against Wellington, and will likely have an influence again today.

Kumar and his assistant Shalen Lal prefer to attack teams with speed and precision, which is a fundamentally different approach from launching long balls to a lanky target-man.

It put pressure on the Wellington defence, who had setup expecting Ba to attack in the manner Fijian teams have become known for.

There is little to suggest Ba should tweak their approach today, al­though that could change if the team’s attackers do not start scor­ing.



Kumar’s tactics this season have been spot on and Ba remains ubeat­en domestically, with valuable wins again Nadi, Lautoka and Suva.

The team’s impressive win against Lautoka in the Champion vs Cham­pion Series was, in part, achieved with a subtle midfield tweak that stifled their opponents’ best at­tacker.

Kumar instructed youngster Kala­veti Sivoi to track Solomon Islander Benjamin Totori like a guided mis­sile and the plan worked wonders.

The coach’s tactical abilities will be put to the ultimate test in the remainder two Champions League games, especially given that Ba’s opponents are relatively unknown.

Should Kumar successfully guide Ba out of Group C, his status as one of Fiji’s best coaches will be con­firmed.

The Ba fans will be hoping it is.

Other matches today (Fiji time):

  • 3PM: Kiwi FC vs Team Wel­lington

-Edited by Osea Bola


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