An early goal by Avinesh Suwamy gave Ba a slender 1-0 advantage at the halftime break but two second half goals in the space of a minute from Vanuatu international Dominique Fred and substitute Kensi Tangis were enough to earn the Nathan Hall-coached outfit a win and two precious away goals.
Amicale coach Hall was pleased with the result and performance of his charges in front of a crowd of 4,000.
“I thought we were the better side in the first half and I knew that with the balance of play we would get the goal we needed but to get two in the space of a minute was a bonus.
“We played well and dictated the terms on the field and had a few good moments in the match,” he says.
Amicale, who dominated the OFC Champions League group stage tournament, pushed Ba but were restricted to an attacking threat based around towering defender Marko Dordevic who headed wide on three occasions in the first half.
But the injection of Tangis – who scored Amicale’s goal in their 1-0 group stage win over defending champions Auckland City FC – saw the creative impetus swing back the visitors way in an end-to-end second half.
Hall, though, remains cautious about the remainder of the tie with the second leg in Port Vila still to come.
“We’re only half way through this tie and we have another 90 minutes to go so we have to make sure we deliver a professional performance in the next match,” Hall says.
“Ba is not out of the tie by any means and they have the pace and ability to score goals that means we need to play to our full potential next week,” he added.
Ba’s hopes of making their own return to the OFC Champions League finals after a seven year absence rely on the Yogendra Dutt-coached outfit notching at least two away goals in the return match in Port Vila, a feat they haven’t managed in two previous knock-out matches in this competition.
In 2007 they lost out to Waitakere United on the away goals rule and last season they managed only one goal as they lost 6-1 to Auckland City FC in the semi-finals clash at Kiwitea Street.
Ba can point to last year’s group stage match with Amicale, a showdown they won in Port Vila by 2-1 thanks to goals by Sanni Issa – who could line up for Amicale next week – and Avinesh Suwamy.
But for coach Yogendra Dutt the wince-inducing memory of a minute’s lapse in concentration in today’s match was his focus as he reflected on a game that got away from Ba.
“We gave two goals away in the second half and that turned out to be the difference in this match today.
“We led 1-0 and we wanted to maintain that lead but when you make the mistakes we made you can expect to get punished,” he says, “But we have another game to go so we will not drop our guard but aim to give our best in Port Vila next Saturday.”
The win was Amicale’s first ever victory over the ‘Men in Black’ in three attempts and comes a year to the day since the two teams last met in the same venue.
The OFC Champions League semi-final action continues next Saturday when Amicale FC and Ba meet in the second leg of their home and away semi-finals with kick off scheduled for 2.30pm at Port Vila Municipal Stadium in Vanuatu.
The other semi-final features AS Pirae and Auckland City FC who clash in Papeete at Stade Pater with kick off scheduled for 8.45pm in French Polynesia.