Babasiga Lions Deliver Promise

Roy Krishna salutes veteran Waqa, who is still going strong at 37.  
22 Feb 2021 12:20
Babasiga Lions Deliver Promise
The Powerwise Electrical (NZ)/Standard Hire Labasa football team, with officials and fans celebrate their Pillay Garments Champions versus Champions title win over Unique Rubber Stamp Suva on February 21, 2021. They beat Suva 2-1 at Suva’s ANZ Stadium to retain the title. Photo: Leon Lord

The Powerwise Electrical (NZ)/ Standard Hire Labasa football side delivered their promise of retaining the Pillay Garment’s Champion Versus Champion Series, for their people back home, who had suffered during Tropical Cyclone Yasa and Ana.

Veteran Labasa defender turned striker Taniela Waqa was the hero when he scored the goal that have them a 2-1 win over Unique Rubber Stamp Suva at the ANZ Stadium, Suva, yesterday.

Waqa who came in as a substitute slotted the winning goal in the 85th minute.

He dedicated the goal to his family and to those affected in the cyclones.

“I thank God for this win and for giving us the strength,” Waqa said.

“This winning goal is for my family in Natokawaqa but moreover for everyone in Vanua Levu, especially for those who suffered during cyclone Yasa and Ana.

“This includes those in my mother’s village in Buavou, Seaqaqa.

“This is a good start for us beating Suva as they always give us a hard game,” he added.

ATK Mohun Bagan striker Roy Krishna while congratulating Labasa hailed Waqa.

“Taniela Waqa a true professional even at the age he is playing his best.

“He is a good example for young players. I hope asipiring footballers learn from him,” Krishna said from Kolkata, India.

An emotional Labasa coach, Ravnil Pratap said the thought of winning for the cyclone victims, was something that drove the team to victory

“The boys played their hearts out whenever they put on the red jersey.

“We always wanted to win in Suva to make our fans here happy as well as those back home.”

Similar sentiments was shared by the Labasa captain, Akuila Mataisuva as he praised the Suva side for putting on a brave performance.

Labasa collected $5000 while Suva took home $2500.

Suva coach Babs Khan was gracious in defeat as he congratulated Labasa for the win.

“They (Labasa) played well. We tried hard, we came back with a goal down, and it was a good effort from my boys,” he said.

What happened: Labasa played attacking football from the opening whistle, Midfielder Ashnil Raju thrilled the spectators with his dribbling skills as he combined with Jone Naraba and Marlon Tahioa.

Suva goalkeeper Atunaisa Naucukidi worked overtime as he pulled off saves to keep them in the game. Labasa opted to play the long ball which often caught the Suva defenders napping.

Continuous pressure from Labasa paid off in the 45th minute when a freekick was headed to the back of the net by Tahioa.

Halftime: Suva 0-1 Labasa.

Suva came back strongly and in the 47th minute when veteran defender Remueru Tekiata slammed in the equaliser to the joy of their fans.

Both coaches made changes as they brought in their impact players.

Suva replaced striker Christopher Wasasala with Merrill Nand while Labasa pulled out Naraba and Raju with Waqa and Ratu Anare coming in.

Heavy downpour did not deter the Babasiga Lions as they kept on attacking until Waqa scored.



Suva: Atunaisa Naucukidi, Meli Codro, Simione Nabenu, Reumeru Tekiate, Iosefo Verevou, Christopher Wasasala, Ravinesh Karan Singh ©, Joeli Ranitu, Waisake Navunigasau, Shahil Dave, Filipe Baravilala

Labasa: Akuila Mateisuva, Sitiveni Rakai, Sekove Naivakananumi, Marlon Tahioa, Siotame Kubu, Jone Naraba, Ilisoni Lolaivalu, Ashnil Raju, Akeimi Ralulu, Ilisoni Logaivau, Lekima Gonerau.

Referee: Veer Singh, Assistant Referee 1: Roneel Chand, Assistant Referee 2: Vikash Reddy, Fourth official: Earon Reddy.




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