Fiji’s Rewa FC have beaten Nikao Sokattak in their opening game of the OFC Champions League 2022 but were made to work for a 3-1 win by the plucky Cook Islands side at Ngahue Reserve in Auckland.
Abbu Zahid’s brace and Tevita Waranaivalu’s strike earned the win for the Fijian side but Mark Leito created history by scoring his side’s first ever goal in the main stage of the region’s flagship competition.
Rewa enjoyed a perfect start, albeit in fortuitous fashion. Rusiate Matarerega’s effort from range deflected into the path of Zahid to score within the opening two minutes.
Nikao Sokattak responded well to the early set-back and immediately set to causing Rewa’s defence problems, captain Stephen Willis’s long throws and Grover Harmon’s dead ball skills causing issues.
Julius David had a shot deflected wide before Toru Mateariki and Nuku Mokoroa both had opportunities for the Cook Islands side.
Matarerega was then denied by the formidable Tahiri Elikana in the Nikao Sokattak goal before Rewa bookended the opening period with goals.
On this occasion, it was a sweeping move from the Delta Tigers, with the impressive Ivan Kumar delivering a perfect low cross which Waranaivalu hammered home on the brink of half-time.
Rewa took full control of the game 10 minutes into the second-half as Kumar again provided the assist, with Zahid nodding home his second goal of the game beyond the despairing Elikana for 3-0.
Zahid saw an improvised effort sail wide and he missed again from close-range as he chased a hat-trick but the Cook Islands side soon had their moment of glory.
David’s chipped through-ball fell into the path of Leito, whose left foot finish crawled into the far corner to earn Nikao Sokattak a well-deserved consolation goal.
Rewa will take on Auckland City in their second Group B clash on Monday, with the New Zealanders on a high after winning 5-0 against reigning champions Hienghène Sport, who await Nikao Sokattak in their second fixture later the same day.
Rewa FC 3 (Abbu ZAHID 2’, 56’, Tevita WARANAIVALU 45+3’)
Nikao Sokattak FC 1 (Mark LEITO 78’)