Former Ba striker Samuela Nabenia proved his worth for Lautoka after scoring the winning goal against Suva in the final of the 2018 Courts Inter District Championship at ANZ Stadium in Suva.
Nabenia who made his debut for the Blues this season was at the right place in the 51st minute of play when striker Benjamin Totori walked his way into the right hand edge of the and gave a neat cross which was well followed by Nabenia who sneaked through the Suva defence and headed the ball past goalkeeper Simione Tamanisau.
As expected, the final proved to be an exciting affair with both teams displaying their different styles of football. The first half was dominated by near misses, a couple of saves by the keepers and tight play in midfield by the two sides.
The Lincoln Refrigeration Suva side and The Fan sponsored Lautoka football team met for the first time in a Courts IDC final after 53 years.
The two cities last met in a final of the tournament in 1965 in Nadi, where Lautoka won 2-1.
It was a long wait for the two cities to meet in the final of Fiji football’s premier tournament, even though both have featured in finals in recent time this.
Lautoka defeated Nadi 3-1 in the first semi-final and Suva overcame Labasa 4-0 in the second semi-final on Tuesday.
Lautoka Captain Samuela Drudru said they came into the tournament well prepared and believed in themselves.
He admitted that the loss to Labasa in group stages was a wake-up call and something that urged the players to get more serious and lift their performance. “I am blessed to lead this team to victory in the IDC.
There was a lot of pressure on us as defending champions but we worked hard and did our best to retain the title. I want to thank all the officials and their families as well as my team mates and their families for all the hard work and sacrifice.
Without their support, this would not have been possible,” he said. Fan sponsored Lautoka walked away $22,000 richer while Lincoln Refrigeration sponsored Suva received $6000 for reaching the final.
Meanwhile Navua won the Senior Division beating Nadroga 2-0 in the final.