Even when he is not present on the pitch, it seems Rewa FC captain Setareki Hughes remains an inspiration to his teammates.
That is, at least, according to Delta Tigers attacker Rusiate Matarerega, the club’s goalscoring hero in the recent OFC Champions League National Playoff second-leg.
Hughes missed the crunch encounter having picked up a concussion in the first-leg of the tie, a game that ended 1-1. With the game finely poised, Matarerega, who also scored Rewa’s goal in the first-leg, scored twice in a 4-0 second-leg victory as Rewa advanced comfortably into the OFC Champions League finals.
The 29-year-old lifted aloft a Rewa kit adorned with Hughes’ regular playing number number, eight, in celebration – alongside the captain’s brother and fellow Rewa star Bruce Hughes – after he had opened the scoring on Sunday, in honour of their stricken skipper.
“I dedicate my goals to our captain Seta who was watching us from the sideline after being injured during the first leg,” Matarerenga, who is now the competition’s top-scorer on three goals, told FFA after the game.
“I also dedicate my goals to the families and fans of Rewa football.”
Rewa coach Marika Rodu also praised the influence of his team’s talisman.
“The boys were a bit emotional when Seta was ruled of the game,” said Rodu.
“I think that was the motivating factor and they stuck to the plan.”
Buoyed by his recent excellent performances in the OCL National Playoffs, Matarerega is now hoping to carry that form into domestic football with Rewa – who are currently unbeaten in the Digicel Premier League but second in the table behind the equally undefeated Suva FC, who have drawn one less game than the Delta Tigers.
“I heartily thank coach Marika Rodu for having faith in me and giving me an opportunity to be in the starting lineup in both legs,” he said.
“Now the aim is to help my team win the Digicel Premier League and I will do my best and work extra hard to achieve it.”
Rewa resume their domestic duties against third-placed Ba FC on Saturday, June 25. Lautoka meanwhile will be hoping to bounce back from their OCL disappointment, and do Rewa a favour, by getting the better of Suva at Churchill Park this weekend.