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Ba win battle of returnees

The New Caledonians are in a similar boat to Fiji’s Ba, having not taken part in the Pacific’s premier club competition since the inaugural edition in 2007, and their comeback appeared to be going well when Jose Hmae put the visitors ahead in the 33rd minute at Govind Park.
But any hopes of a triumphant return were dashed in the second half by Fijian international Avinesh Suwamy, who equalised in the 64th minute before snatching a late winner with just eight minutes remaining.
Ba coach Yogendra Dutt was delighted to have turned the match around and was especially pleased to have recorded a win on home soil.
“Winning at home is very important in the O-League,” he said. “You never know what to expect in away games.”
Dutt felt the quality of his side’s football increased in the second half and the dramatic victory was a result of that improvement.
“The boys played well in the second half and they kept the ball more on the ground instead of playing high balls. We got the reward from that.”
The home side began the match slowly and Mont-Dore took full advantage of their lacklustre first-half showing, opening the scoring when Hmae nodded the ball over oncoming goalkeeper Jone Ralulu and rolled it into an empty net for a halftime lead.
But Dutt’s teamtalk at the break appeared to work wonders and Ba were a different side in the second spell. With Malakai Tiwa and skipper Kini Viliame pulling the strings, they began creating more chances and were denied on numerous occasions before Suwamy finally broke through.
The fullback picked the ball up near the edge of the box and rifled a powerful shot past goalkeeper Jean-Jacques Wachou to tee up an exciting final half hour.
Inspired by the equaliser, Ba pressed forward and finally went ahead when Suwamy got his second from a similar distance to earn Dutt’s charges all three points on their O-League return.
Mont-Dore coach Thierry Sardo was disappointed not to have done the same but feels his players will recover from the setback.
“We started the match well and everything was in place during the first half,” he said.
“The heat caught us a little bit but there was also a problem in our midfield during the second half which saw the Ba players take advantage. But this is just the first O-League match of the season and we still have a long way to go, we can catch up.”
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