Ba and Rewa have claimed Fiji’s two places in the 2017 OFC Champions League after taking out first and second respectively in the Fiji Vodafone Premier League.
The pair were confirmed over the weekend when Ba drew with Labasa 0-0 at Govind Park on Sunday, giving them the point needed to win the league. Rewa’s place was secured on Saturday when they relegated Nadroga with a 1-0 win.
Ba coach Imdad Ali was relieved to take out the league after a challenging year and is looking forward to returning to the regional tournament after falling short of qualification for the 2016 edition.
“There have been a lot of critics as far as the team is concerned,” he said.
“Criticisms made the team strong and I thank the players for their commitment to win the league title.
“The win has silenced the team’s critics.”
Ali acknowledged the ongoing commitment from Ba’s supporters, particularly Ba president Rishi Kumar for standing behind the team despite a bumpy start to the season.
“Credit goes out to our president and his family for the big support rendered to the team by looking after the players’ welfare.”
“Apart from the supporters, all credit goes to the president, he also provided jobs to the players and has been supporting them for the past years.
“I also thank the players and their families, the people of Ba who always come out in huge numbers to support the team.”
As Fijian champion, Ba go into Group B along with Team Wellington, Hienghene Sport and the winner of the Qualifying Stage. The group will be hosted in Koné, New Caledonia
Ba’s last appearance in the Champions League was in 2015 where they reached the semi-final against Team Wellington but conceded two first half goals, ending their campaign.
The 2017 OFC Champions League will be Rewa’s inaugural appearance in the competition and they will head to Papeete where AS Tefana will host themselves, the winner of the Solomon Islands league and Vanuatu’s second qualifier.
Both teams will turn their focus to preparation for Oceania’s biggest club competition after participating in the Pacific Cup, kicking off in Fiji tomorrow.
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