The Rewa Youth side clinched the 2017 Vodafone Youth League after finishing top in the national play offs last weekend at Fiji FA Academy Grounds in Vatuwaqa.
The southern champions defeated Dreketi 4-1 in their opening match on Saturday while drew 3-3 against Nadi in the final match on Sunday.
Nadi defeated Dreketi 3-1 and the match between Nadi and Rewa. The match between Rewa and Nadi was to be decided as the baby Tigers were on advantage with a one goal forward.
Rewa just needed a draw while Nadi needed to win the match.
The Baby Tigers started the match bombarding the Nadi defense. In the 12th minute of play striker Kini Madigi netting the opener after connecting well with a Rusiate Qio cross with a header.
Rewa’s celebration was cut short in the 27th minute when midfielder Zainal Ali found the equaliser with a powerful shot past goalkeeper Apete Ravudolo.
Both teams equally matched as they went to breather locked at 1-1.
The second half saw Nadi making more pressure on the Rewa defense but captain Savenaca Baleidrokadroka stood tall in the defence for the Baby Tigers.
In the 62nd minute Rewa received a free just at the middle of the pitch after striker Kini Madigi was fouled which saw Rusiate Qio’s long drive caught Nadi goalkeeper Peni Tuigulagula napping.
Captain Baleidroroka put Rewa into 3-1 lead in the 73rd minute again with a free kick from outside the penalty box.
With two goals down Nadi started pressuring the Rewa defense and in the 76th minute Patrick Neil Joseph made it 3-2 and in the 83rd minute Tito Waqa equalised for Nadi.
The draw gave Rewa the victory after failing to Ba in last year’s finals. Rewa has been featuring the national finals for the last six years and they were unbeaten in the competition.
Rewa coach Nigel Khan was overjoyed after the victory and was lost for words.
“I am really happy today because we aimed for this win,” Khan said.
Khan said all the credit should go to the players for their hard work and dedication.
“The boys played gallantly and hats off to them.”
He said playing winning five finals and making it sixth this year was something special for him.
“This is a very special win for us as we lost last with Ba and today I would say we have done it.”
Khan believes the Vodafone Youth League has been growing stronger and better every year.
“The competition is getting very tough every year and more competitive. “Khan said.
The former Rewa rep said the districts should now start using these players as some of the players were very capable of featuring in the top division.
‘We can see there are lot of potential in these players as they can play for their districts and when they districts fail to give them chance they run to other districts and all our hard work in developing are washed away.”
Khan said the National League Board should also look into the format of the final plays.
“I think the competition is very good but Fiji FA should look in to giving more time to rest as it is unfair as we played yesterday (Saturday) and today again we playing likewise Nadi had a good rest yesterday and this was unfair.”
Nadi coach Zubid Shah was happy with his team’s performance.
“I am happy with the performance of my players as they played their heart out but we were just unfortunate, “Shah said.
Shah said their main weakness was the finishing.
“We had so many chances but the strikers failed to equalize and congratulated Rewa for the victory and good game.
Rewa walked away with $4000 richer while Nadi received $1500.
Vodafone Youth League 2017 – Final Playoff
P W D L GF GA GD PTS
Rewa Youth 2 1 1 0 7 4 3 4
Nadi Youth 2 1 1 0 5 4 1 4
Dreketi Youth 2 0 0 2 2 6 -4 0