BA – Ba coach Yogendra Datt was a happy man following his club’s last gasp O-League Houdini act against Tafea FC of Vanuatu at Govind Park tonight thanks to a goal from Fiji
international defender Shalen Lal.
During a week in which injuries, suspensions and the loss of influential skipper Peni Finau and his brother Osea Vakatalesau to Youngheart Manawatu, Datt could be forgiven for
fearing the worst in this O-League opener.
Clearly the performance was not polished with Ba missing a glut of scoring opportunities as the normally reliable Josaia Bukalidi the guilty party on the numerous occasions. Despite
this Ba will be satisfied with their ability to grind out a victory of any sort, even if the swagger and verve of last season was conspicuous by its absence.
Credit must be given to Tafea FC, though, who looked to have all but sealed what would’ve been a most valuable away point to go with the hard earned draw gained at Lawson Tama
Stadium in Honiara against Solomon Islands champions Kossa FC.
Had Tafea FC held on for five minutes they would have sealed a healthy base of away points that would have served as a launchpad for the O-League Final itself even at this early
stage with renovations at Port Vila Stadium likely to make the visit for any team seeking maximum points a truly difficult and daunting prospect.
Ba’s ability to snatch this game out of the fire when the cause looked lost was due to the sublime skill of Fiji international defender Shalen Lal who delicately chipped a last gasp
effort over the head of Vanuatu and Tafea FC goalkeeper David Chilia after 93 minutes.
The importance of the strike suggests that a draw may well be enough for Ba to secure top spot in Group B leaving Chilia and his men seeking a rather special performance in the
return match where anything less than maximum points may not be enough.
In what is shaping as a fascinating and intriguing section of the O-League much will depend on how Kossa FC perform on their travels. Last season’s O-League representatives Marist FC
often flattered to deceive with their ability to score goals on the road outdone by their irritating habit of leaking with impunity at the merest hint of pressure.
Group B remains wide open and might well shade the title of the 2008 O-League’s “Group of Death” unless AS Manu Ura can produce a shock result in their two home matches with New
Zealand clubs Auckland City FC and Waitakere United next year.
As for Ba and its fans at Govind Park, Shalen Lal was the toast of the Ba side after his late goal in the 93rd minute.
Ba skipper Josaia Bukalidi was proud of his young brigade and added the message had been hammered at half time for the players to give it their all in the second spell.
“I am very proud of the way the side played,” Bukalidi said.
“They showed great dedication and commitment and never gave up until the final whistle and we got the result.
“We had to be paitent and the result came.”
Ba coach Yogendra Datt said Tafea proved to be a tough unit and saluted his players for the outstanding performance.
“It was a tough encounter and to get the win is a great boost for us,”
“My young side played until the last whistle for which I am very proud.”
Tafea coach Michel Kalo said Ba proved to be a strong side but his side also had opportunities in the match.
“Both teams put on a good show and had opportunities,” Kalo said.
“Ba playing at home was always going to be tough and they took the chance which came their way.
“We will now wait for the two home games we have against Ba and Kossa in which we want to get a favorable result.”
Ba president Rishi Kumar said after playing in the O League last year his side knew what international football was all about.
“The players showed great courage and how to respond to such matches, Kumar said.
He said it was unfortunately that the Nadi-Lautoka National Football League was played at the same time in Nadi.
“We would have wanted the people to all come out but there was the Lautoka-Nadi match and that shouldn’t have been held as we were playing for Fiji and not only Ba.” He said.
“It is very disappointing.
“We will be playing against Labasa and Navua on Friday and Sunday but we will still do Ba proud.
In the match proper Ba and Tafea both had a few chances but the players were able to capitalise on their chances.
Ba without the likes of brothers Peni Finau and Osea Vakatalesau, Luke Vidovi and Ronald Lawrence didn’t show the football the Men in Black is renowned for.
Overall the match was a lack luster affair and there a clear lack of finishing from both sides.
Even Tafea failed to test young Ba goal keeper Epeli Codoro who was making his debut in the O-League.
Meanwhile, Nadi beat Lautoka 2-0 in the National Football League at Prince Charles Park.
Both goals were scored by Marika Madigia.
6′ – the match is underway at Govind Park, with an even contest unfolding before the building crowd of thousands
8′ – 10. Niumaia TAGI picks up a yellow card
14′ – it’s another yellow card to the home side, this time going to 4. Leone VURUKANIA
19′ – Ba have had their chances, but not managed to find the target to this point
24′ – Etienne Mermer is looking impressive for Tafea, using his pace and trickery to keep the Ba defence honest
30′ – the match is still locked at 0-0, with Ba dominating possession
36′ – Mermer produces a good save from Epeli Codro in the Ba goal
38′ – despite having the run of play so far, Ba has nothing to show on the scoreboard at this stage
39′ – Vurukania has a shot from distance, but David Chilia saves comfortably
43′ – Jean Nako Naprapol calls Codro into action again, with the Ba goalkeeper equal to the task
44′ – Josaia Bukalidi looks to give Ba the upper-hand into half-time with a powerful drive, but Chilia is solid in holding the save
HALF TIME: BA 0 TAFEA FC 0
51′ – the second half is underway with both teams very cautious
55′ – Malakai Kainihewe has been solid for Ba to this point, directing play and snuffing out any attempted Tafea attacks
57′ – 7. Tuimasi MANUCA makes way for 5. Rinal PRASAD
58′ – Bukalidi has been well-positioned to shoot on two occasions, but failing to register an attempt on target for either
65′ – 12. Hubert NAKE is booked for Tafea
66′ – Michel Kalo injects 10. Richard IWAI into the game, replacing 13. Francois SAKAMA as the visitors look to pinch an away goal
77′ – Chilia is showing his experience for Tafea, marshalling his defence expertly to maintain his clean sheet
78′ – 8. Keni DOIDOI is replaced by 13. Kiniviliame TURAGALAILAI
81′ – Bukalidi is away and bearing down on goal, but can not get his shot away before being challenged by the Tafea cover defence
85′ – Ba are looking to press into the closing stages of the match, though Tafea seem satisfied with the draw as sections of the crowd begin to filter out
— 5 minutes added time —
90’+2 – Ba have a late corner, but it is easily cleared by the Tafea defence
90’+3 – GOAL!
3. Shalen LAL shapes to shoot from distance but delicately chips David Chilia, who is fractionally off his line, giving the home side a late winner and sending those who remain in
the crowd into raptures
FULL TIME: BA 1 (Lal 90’+3) TAFEA FC 0
Match Day 2 – 1900 – 31 October 2007
Govind Park – Ba – Fiji
BA: 1. Epeli CODRO [gk]; 3. Shalen LAL; 4. Leone VURUKANIA; 6. Jone VESIKULA; 7. Tuimasi MANUCA (5. Rinal PRASAD 57′); 8. Keni DOIDOI (13. Kiniviliame TURAGALAILAI
78′); 9. Josaia BUKALIDI [c]; 10. Niumaia TAGI; 11. Robert WISE; 16. Malakai TIWA; 17. Malakai KAINIHEWE.
Coach: Yogendra DUTT
Substitutes not used: 2. Avinesh SWAMY; 18. Semesa DOIDOI; 19. Leone VURUKANIA; 21. Jone SOROLO.
Not eligible: Manoa MASI; Ronald CHANDRA; Luke VIDOVI; Krishna SAMI.
Cautions: 10. Niumaia TAGI (8′); 4. Leone VURUKANIA (14′).
Goal scorers: 3. Shalen LAL (90’+3).
TAFEA FC: 1. David CHILIA [gk]; 3. Jacques MAFIL NAWAN; 4. Ephraim KALORIB; 6. Fedy VAVA; 7. Moise POIDA [c]; 9. Jean Nako NAPRAPOL; 11. Etienne MERMER; 12. Hubert
NAKE; 13. Francois SAKAMA (10. Richard IWAI 66′); 16. Alphonse Welin QORIG; 17. Geoffrey Lego GETE.
Coach: Michel KALO
Substitutes not used: 2. Samson OBED; 5. Tom MANSES; 14. Ali SILAS; 17. Silas NAMATAK; 22. Shem SIPAI [gk].
Not eligible: 8. Pita David MAKI; 14. Warren Roger WAIWAI; 19. Lorry THOMPSEN; 20. Alista KALIP; 21. Jason AVOCK; 23. Talom IARUELI; 24. Timothy JOB; 25. Titus NOAL;
26. Andrew MAHIT.
Cautions: 12. Hubert NAKE (65′).
Referee: Averii JACQUES (TAH)
Assistant Referee: Teariki GOODWIN (COK)
Assistant Referee: Raimana TAUOTAHA (TAH)
Fourth Official: Rakesh VARMAN (FIJ)
2008 O-LEAGUE – GROUP B