Rewa FC have qualified for the OFC Champions League main stage after a comfortable 4-0 second-leg win over Lautoka FC secured a 5-1 aggregate victory in Fiji’s OCL National Playoff at the ANZ Stadium in Suva.
A brace from the impressive Rusiate Matarerega and goals from Alick Worworbu and Samuela Nabenia ensured the home fans went home happy after an impressive performance in a game which saw both teams reduced to 10-men late on.
With the scores level at 1-1 from the first-leg, Lautoka were given a boost for the second-leg, with Afraz Ali returning from suspension and new signings Raymond Gunemba and Joses Nawo both available. Rewa meanwhile were dealt a blow before kick-off, with influential captain Setareki Hughes ruled out with the concussion he picked up Friday night.
Despite his absence, Rewa started the game on the front foot, with chances falling to Ivan Kumar, Matarerega and Bruce Hughes early on. It was the stricken captain’s brother who first tested Ishmael Pole in the Lautoka goal, the Papua New Guinea international doing well to stop a powerful near-post effort. Pole then reacted well to tip over Rewa’s stand-in skipper Kavaia Rawaqa’s overhit pass, which skidded off the wet surface at a damp ANZ Stadium.
However, the home side’s early pressure soon told. Kisham Sami’s long-throw found Hughes in the box and his powerful cross was parried kindly into Matarerega’s path, with the first-leg goalscorer duly dispatching the chance to give Rewa a deserved lead.
Lautoka highlighted their danger on the counter-attack, with Solomon Islands international Nawo coming close but Rewa remained in control and soon found themselves with a two-goal advantage.
Just moments after he had flashed a similar long-range effort just wide of Lautoka’s goal, Matarerega repeated the feat but on this occasion his effort was goalbound. Pole, Lautoka’s hero in the first-leg, was unable to handle the powerful strike and Worworbu reacted fastest to fire home the rebound.
Lautoka started the second-half strongly as they went looking for a turnaround but the in-form Matarerega soon stretched Rewa’s lead, rising high to meet Rawaqai’s corner and head the home side 3-0 up.
The third goal finally saw Lautoka spring into life, with Gunemba forcing a save from Mohammed Alam before smashing a strike against the crossbar from close range moments later.
But with Lautoka chasing a much-needed goal Rewa punished the visitors on the counter-attack, Samuela Nabenia rounding replacement goalkeeper Joela Biuvanua to slot home a cool finish and secure a 4-0 win on the night.
As tempers flared late on, both teams were reduced to 10-men, after Lautoka’s Kolinio Sivoki and Rewa striker Hughes were sent off following an off the ball incident, but Rewa will surely not let it dampen their 5-1 aggregate success.
Rewa will now join New Zealand’s Auckland City, the Cook Islands’ Nikao Sokattak, New Caledonia’s Hienghène Sport and Tahiti’s AS Vénus at the OCL Final Stage later this year.
Rewa FC 4 (Rusiate MATAREREGA 25′, 51′ Alick WORWORBU 37′, Samuela NABENIA 81′)
Lautoka FC 0