Ba FC found a return to form to reign supreme in the 2018 Battle of the Giants as they claimed their 17th title with a 2-0 win over Suva.
The Men in Black have had a run of bad form in local tournaments with a drought of titles extending back more than a year and a half.
But goals to Abbu Zahid and in-form striker Samuela Nabenia were enough to dispatch a courageous Suva who had played two matches which extended into extra time, in a 24 hour period.
Ba FA president Rishi Kumar thanked the players for their courageous display throughout the tournament, taking particular note of the change in fortune.
“I must take this opportunity to thank the players for their total commitment in lifting the BOG title for the 17th time on Lautoka soil.
“We did not lose hope when we went through some dark days but this motivated us to come back a stronger team and finally the wait is over. I am happy that through our performance we are able to bring back smiles to the people of Ba as soccer is the only major sport that has a strong following in Ba,” Kumar added.
The victory was a significant moment for coach Roneel Kumar, with it marking his first win as coach of the senior side.
“When Ba won the BOG in 2006 beating Suva in the final he (Roneel) was the captain and also scored a goal. Twelve years on he is now the coach and he led the team to this sweet win in the Sugar City,” revealed the Ba president.
The softly spoken coach said it was a proud moment for him and his family to be part of history and thanked the team for having faith in his ability as he continues to learn.
In addition to claiming their 17th BOG title, Ba also cleaned up in all the individual awards with Abbu Zahid taking both the Golden Ball and Golden Boot, with five goals in the tournament, while Josaia Ratu was named the goalkeeper of the tournament.
Zahid said his personal victories are dedicated to his mother, Sabiran Bibi.
“I dedicate my award to my mum because she is my strength and always supports me in my football career,” he said.
“I also dedicate my final goal to the fans of Ba, not forgetting the players, families and officials of Ba FA.”
Zahid said he was confident about doing well in the final as a team, and on a personal level.
“I was confident of giving my team the lost glory after five years,” he said.
“I must thank my teammates for playing as a team and giving back to the fans of Ba what they have been waiting on for a long time.
“We had a mission to win the title and I am happy that my goal gave Ba the most needed win in the final.