O-LEAGUE: INJURY-TIME WINNER SINKS TAFEA FC

Publié le par OFC Website

Ba---Tafea-1.jpgBA - Ba coach Yogendra Datt was a happy man following his club's last gasp O-League Houdini act against Tafea FC of Vanuatu at Govind Park tonight thanks to a goal from Fiji international defender Shalen Lal.
D
uring a week in which injuries, suspensions and the loss of influential skipper Peni Finau and his brother Osea Vakatalesau to Youngheart Manawatu, Datt could be forgiven for fearing the worst in this O-League opener.
Clearly the performance was not polished with Ba missing a glut of scoring opportunities as the normally reliable Josaia Bukalidi the guilty party on the numerous occasions. Despite this Ba will be satisfied with their ability to grind out a victory of any sort, even if the swagger and verve of last season was conspicuous by its absence.
Credit must be given to Tafea FC, though, who looked to have all but sealed what would've been a most valuable away point to go with the hard earned draw gained at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara against Solomon Islands champions Kossa FC.
Had Tafea FC held on for five minutes they would have sealed a healthy base of away points that would have served as a launchpad for the O-League Final itself even at this early stage with renovations at Port Vila Stadium likely to make the visit for any team seeking maximum points a truly difficult and daunting prospect.
Ba's ability to snatch this game out of the fire when the cause looked lost was due to the sublime skill of Fiji international defender Shalen Lal who delicately chipped a last gasp effort over the head of Vanuatu and Tafea FC goalkeeper David Chilia after 93 minutes.
The importance of the strike suggests that a draw may well be enough for Ba to secure top spot in Group B leaving Chilia and his men seeking a rather special performance in the return match where anything less than maximum points may not be enough.

In what is shaping as a fascinating and intriguing section of the O-League much will depend on how Kossa FC perform on their travels. Last season's O-League representatives Marist FC often flattered to deceive with their ability to score goals on the road outdone by their irritating habit of leaking with impunity at the merest hint of pressure.
Group B remains wide open and might well shade the title of the 2008 O-League's "Group of Death" unless AS Manu Ura can produce a shock result in their two home matches with New Zealand clubs Auckland City FC and Waitakere United next year.
As for Ba and its fans at Govind Park, Shalen Lal was the toast of the Ba side after his late goal in the 93rd minute.
Ba skipper Josaia Bukalidi was proud of his young brigade and added the message had been hammered at half time for the players to give it their all in the second spell.

"I am very proud of the way the side played," Bukalidi said. "They showed great dedication and commitment and never gave up until the final whistle and we got the result. "We had to be paitent and the result came."
Ba coach Yogendra Datt said Tafea proved to be a tough unit and saluted his players for the outstanding performance. "It was a tough encounter and to get the win is a great boost for us," Datt said. "My young side played until the last whistle for which I am very proud."
Tafea coach Michel Kalo said Ba proved to be a strong side but his side also had opportunities in the match. "Both teams put on a good show and had opportunities," Kalo said. "Ba playing at home was always going to be tough and they took the chance which came their way. "We will now wait for the two home games we have against Ba and Kossa in which we want to get a favorable result."
Ba president Rishi Kumar said after playing in the O League last year his side knew what international football was all about. "The players showed great courage and how to respond to such matches, Kumar said. He said it was unfortunately that the Nadi-Lautoka National Football League was played at the same time in Nadi. "We would have wanted the people to all come out but there was the Lautoka-Nadi match and that shouldn't have been held as we were playing for Fiji and not only Ba." He said. "It is very disappointing. "We will be playing against Labasa and Navua on Friday and Sunday but we will still do Ba proud.
In the match proper Ba and Tafea both had a few chances but the players were able to capitalise on their chances.
Ba without the likes of brothers Peni Finau and Osea Vakatalesau, Luke Vidovi and Ronald Lawrence didn't show the football the Men in Black is renowned for.
Overall the match was a lack luster affair and there a clear lack of finishing from both sides. Even Tafea failed to test young Ba goal keeper Epeli Codoro who was making his debut in the O-League.

Publié dans Clubs and competitions

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