Hienghène Sport has thwarted Ba FC’s attempts to qualify for the OFC Champions League 2019 semi-finals in extra time.
The home side, which made a slow start to the game, fought hard to come back and snatch the win from Ba’s clutches.
The skies were clear to shine brightly upon the game as the kick-off whistle blew.
Hienghène started slow, moving the ball around with nothing coming of it.
Ba, however, had other plans and came out strong right from the get-go, pressing the attack and playing long balls in behind the defence.
Their efforts rewarded them with a goal in the 8th minute through the boots of Malakai Rakula.
Ba’s defence sat back and formed a defensive wall, one which seemed impenetrable due to Hienghène’s struggle to play the ball in behind.
Hienghene finally found their composure just before the end of the half and even the scoreboard.
Captain Bertrand Kai was the one to equalsze for the side in the 44th minute when he nailed a penalty past Ba keeper Misiwani Nairube.
Ba coach, Ronil Kumar, explained that his side had thought that they had won once they had scored and this could have been their downfall.
“As soon as we started winning, their performance fell.
“They thought that they were going to win and I thought they would snap out of it however that wasn’t the case and the New Caledonia side caught up”
“I told my boys at the break to keep up the pressing attack we can score another one to take back the lead,” added Kumar.
The New Caledonians held strong however and prevented more goals from being scored, with goalkeeper Rocky Nyikiene impressing with some outstanding saves to deny the Fijians.
Kumar remained positive regardless of the result
“Despite the loss, the team played well and played their hearts out and that is why I think they played good,” he said.
Hienghène coach Félix Tagawa seemed to agree with Kumar expressing some thoughts towards the Fijian club.
“We knew that if we wanted to get to the semi-final we knew to expect the high pressing from Fiji and that we would have to be patient at the back and try and get them on the counter-attack.
“We tried to impose our game but we weren’t able to, we threw it away and put ourselves under pressure.
The Fijians were able to capitalise on that.”
A scoreless second half had passed, which lead into extra time.
By this time Ba FC had lost a player to a red card incident in the 82nd minute where Narend Rao intervened from behind with a goal scoring opportunity.
This left Ba FC at a disadvantage and they eventually paid for it through the boots of Geordy Goné who scored the winning goal for Hienghène Sport.
With the Semi-final in mind, Hienghène is first going to have to prepare themselves for a league game next week.
“We have a Super Ligue match next week, that we have to win, we’re playing at home.
“The semi-final is in two weeks, we need to keep that in the back of our minds, and we’ll know our opponents tomorrow because Team Wellington and Eels will play and we’ll learn our adversary for that match,” said Félix Tagawa.