Tigers to face Lions
The 2018 edition of Vodafone Fiji FA Cup Tournament’s pool stages and the semi-finals have been done dusted for another success- a showcase of Fijian football and this year it was better than ever.
Now the two finalist have been confirmed and we all await for the winner of this year’s first major tournament in Fiji FA Calendar.
Due to unforeseen circumstance the semi-finals were forced to be staged a different venue as it was beyond control of Fiji FA after Nausori Town Council could not maintained Ratu Cakobau Park due to adverse weather condition.
There have been lot of criticism regarding the change of venue without understanding the actual fact of the reason.
Churchill Park was only available on Sunday as all other stadiums are undergoing major maintenance and that was the reason the semi-finals was played on Sunday and finals on a later date. Churchill Park was booked for rugby on Friday and Saturday.
It was all due to a mother nature and it was beyond anyone’s control which people should understand and appreciate the hard-work put in by everyone in making the tournament success.
The Fiji FA Cup Tournament was first played in 1991. According to the history, one of the main reasons for this additional tournament was to rejuvenate football in Fiji after 1987. The increasing financial demands and lack of funding option saw the Fiji FA develop the tournament as part of their revenue generation ventures,
Over the years the Fiji FACT has grown incrementally with greater fan numbers. It is also the tournament that has seen a wide spread of teams gaining success in it.
I recount that 2018 marks the 28th year of the tournament. A true coming of age tournament for Fiji FACT.
After an initial phase of valued short term sponsors in 2009 Vodafone Fiji took over the sponsorship of the tournament with a slogan “Make the Most of it now” as we did. They continued their support through-out with the slogan ‘Power to you” and they did supplied more power to football in the country.
As we entered in this year’s competition with Vodafone’s slogan “Future is Exciting” indeed future is exciting for football in Fiji. Like its naming origins the football at 2018 Vodafone Fiji FACT was of high quality and exciting.
Vodafone Fiji has continued with this sponsorship now in its tenth year. They must be complimented for their long-term commitment to the development of football in Fiji.
Twenty eight years on the Vodafone Fiji FACT still captures the imagination of the sporting public as a festival of football. The 2018 football season had been a very competitive one in Fiji Football.
The eight teams participating in the tournament were all competitive which kept the fans on their toes.
It all started with an amazing action of football at Ratu Cakobau Park on Friday May 25 at 1.30pm where last year’s finalist Nadi battled the unpredicted Tavua who made their return to the top level after five years and stunned most of the football loving fans when they defeated Nadi 2-1. It was the major upset of the tournament.
The Gold Town Boys were most impressive and was unlucky to concede a last minute goal against Suva and a penalty against Lautoka after leading with 1 goal till the last minute.
Despite not making it to the top four, Tavua won fame for the spectacular performance delivered. The master Saroj Kumar coached side should be commended for the courageous effort in the tournament.
Nothing could be taken away from Dreketi which gave top guns run for their money. After a 2 nil loss to neighbors Labasa in the opening match, the Thomas Vulivuli coached side held defending champions Rewa and Ba to a nil-all draw.
Dreketi was brave enough to hold Rewa and Ba but they were unlucky on the opening day going down 2-0 against Labasa.
On the other hand Nadi after 2-1 loss to Tavua regrouped and showed their worth with a scoreless draw against Lautoka and beating Suva 3-2 to book a spot in the semi-finals.
Ba had a poor start in the tournament going down 1-0 against Rewa in the opening match held minnows Tavua and Dreketi to nil-all draw while Rewa was lucky with four points with a win against Ba and draw against Dreketi. The Delta Tigers despite the results against Labasa in the final match were already in top four and lost 4-0 in that match.
Labasa was the most aggressive team in the tournament after beating Dreketi 2-0, held Ba and thrashed Rewa 4-0.
Many thought Lautoka would cruise in the semi-finals of the Vodafone Fiji FACT based on the OFC Champions League performance but they failed to spark as well as Suva with the current set of players were out.
A total of twenty three goals were scored in the pool stages of the 2018 Vodafone Fiji FACT at Ratu Cakobau Park in Nausori.
On day one seven goals were scored in which Tavua defeated Nadi 2-1,Labasa won 2-0 against Dreketi, Lautoka 1-0 Suva and Rewa won 1-nil against Ba.
The day two saw only three goals scored in which Suva scored one against Tavua and Ba vs Labasa match ended in a 1-1 draw.
Fourteen goals were scored on the final day in which Lautoka and Tavua scored a goal each in their 1-1 draw, Nadi defeated Suva 3-2 and Labasa thrashed Rewa 4-0.
Meanwhile 43 yellow cards and three red cards were shown during the three days of the competition.
Additional referees were used in some of the matches at the Vodafone Fiji FACT. This was to ensure they assist in the tight decisions and also because of the weather condition.
One referees was sent home after he failed to discipline a player who was caught in the camera for serious foul in the Labasa vs Dreketi match.
Also amongst the crowd was Fijian Wonder Boy and Vodafone National Team captain Roy Krishna who was really impressed with the performance of all team.
The official opening was done by the Assistant Minister for Youth and Sports Honorable Iliesa Delana and he acknowledged Fiji Football Association’s commitment in the development of football in Fiji.
The 2018 Vodafone Fiji FACT will be a tournament with a lot to be cherished as we move our focuss to the Vodafone Premier League and upcoming INKK Mobile Battle of the Giants next month.