Vodafone Premier League comes first, players’ warned
Tension was high when Labasa and Dreketi district reps were stopped from playing for their teams in the Carpenters Finance Labasa Sanatan tournament at Subrail Park, Labasa yesterday.
The tournament officials acted after they were informed by the Dreketi and Labasa Football Associations that they had suspended the players who should have been playing for their district teams in this weekend’s Vodafone Premier League competition but instead opted out. The players were Dreketi and former national football striker Anish Khem and Shamal Lal along with Labasa reps Ashneel Raju, Ravikash Krishna and Vikrant Chandra.
Khem, Raju and Krishna played for Delai Tovata while Lal and Chandra represented Naleba. Khem, Raju and Krishna confronted the tournament officials and argued about the directive they had given.
Labasa Football Association secretary Varun Anand told SUNsports that they suspended Raju, Krishna and Chandra from all level of football.
“They are licence district players and they should put their priority first for the district as we had a match against Ba and Tavua this weekend for the Vodafone Premier League and these were very crucial games for us,” he said.
“If they had a prayer at home then they should be at home and not playing in the tournament. Representing the district team is important for us and it comes first.”
Dreketi Football Association secretary Mukesh Kumar said following their discussion with the Fiji Football Association they then decided to suspend Lal and Khem. “The two players understood how important were the games against Tavua and Ba and yet they chose to do otherwise.
“They have signed contracts with us and should not breach those conditions.”
Dreketi have to beat Tavua today to avoid being relegated to the senior division while Labasa are chasing for a second spot to qualify for next year’s OFC Champions League. When approached Khem and Raju said they had a prayer session at home and had informed their respective officials.
“I had applied for window transfer to Rewa and my district officials are aware about it,” Khem said. “I even sent an email to Fiji FA CEO Mohammed Yusuf and he acknowledged my email about my absence. I don’t know why they having personal grudges.” Krishna said he had been participating in the tournament for so many years and can’t understand why the tournament officials did not allow him to play.
“We should be allowed to play under the Sanatan banner as we are Sanatans,” Krishna said. Delai Tovata Sanatan coach Shaneel Prasad said he was disappointed when his three players were stopped from playing. Tournament chairman Mor Singh said Fiji FA had informed the referees’ coordinator to instruct the panel of referees of the tournament to pull out if these sanctioned players enter the field of play.
“This is utter injustice against us as organisers of the tournament. This has caused chaos in the teams concerned and also unnecessary delays in the tournament,” Singh added.
When contacted for a comment Yusuf ’s phone was switched off. However, Fiji FA competitions manager Amitesh Pal told SUNsports that he wasn’t aware about the arrangement but would liaise with Yusuf before they provide a response.
From left: Anish Khem, Delai Tovata Sanatan team coach Shaneel Prasad, Ravikash Krishna and Ashneel Raju at Subrail Park, Labasa during the Carpenters Finance Labasa Sanatan tournament on September 15,2018.