Whites Move Up To Third Spot
Improved Rewa side move away from relegation battle
Rewa football coach Pita Rabo wants his side to play with hunger and passion after they drew 1-1 with Suva in the Vodafone Premier League clash at the Uprising Sports Centre, Pacific Harbour yesterday.
A bullet second half header by Jonetani Buksh looked to have secured the Delta Tigers the three points until Suva’s Gagame Feni beat two Rewa players to score the equaliser. The draw sees Suva move up to third spot of the VPL points table while Rewa move to the sixth spot.
Nickel Chand could have won it for the Capital City side had he maintained some composure in the 80th minute but his cushioned effort trickled harmlessly wide.
Rewa looked transformed from the side that lost 4-0 to Nadi last week, their approach prominent for its fluidity in attack, slick passing and assured defence.
Suva were always going to be a formidable opponent but Rabo’s men played with a hunger not previously seen this season. Suva were without defender Laisenia Raura, but saw the return of Joeli Ranitu who was stationed at right back in the first half before moving inside in the second.
Their midfield of Madwan Gounder and Jacky Ruben were overrun at times by the agile duo of Tevita Waranivalu and Setareki Hughes but recovered in the second. Rabo rued his team’s missed chances but said he was satisfied with the performance. “I’ve spent more time with the team and I’m now in the position to identify the best way my players can play,” Rabo said.
“I made some tough changes and it paid off. You saw that the team kept possession very well but the finishing was lacking. If we finished our early chances, we could have won 3 to 4 nil.”
His Suva counterpart, Kamal Swamy, was disappointed that his side didn’t get going until they conceded the first goal.
“I think we fought back after going down which was good but we really have to work on our defence. It’s a concern that we didnt get going until Rewa scored and we’ve been talking about that for some time.
“But overall we created chances and Rewa did too and the one they scored was a good goal so we need to watch the blindside runs.”
Analysis: Rewa, after struggling for much of the season, is finally starting to look the part under Pita Rabo. The coach made several
tweaks to the side that were hammered by Nadi in the same venue a week ago, none more notable than Savenaca Baledrokadroka. The former Nasinu midfielder was played out of position at right back last week but returned to his preferred midfield role against Suva.
Baledrokadroka’s accurate passing and confidence on the ball was part of why Rewa dominated proceedings in the first half. Another plus point for Rewa was the performance of 17-year-old Inoke Turagalailai, who showed composure and determination in midfield.
But the Delta Tigers lost momentum after going ahead, allowing Suva to get back into the game.
Filipe Baravilala came on in the second half to add width to Suva’s game, with young Sairusi Nalaubu moved further forward to support Feni.
That changed the game for Suva, with Solomon Island international Feni being the prime beneficiary.
Switching to a back three, Suva pushed forward with renewed vigour and caught their southern rivals off-guard at times. The added pace to Suva’s forward line created space for Feni to beat Jale Dreloa and Mohammed Naizal for Suva’s equaliser in the 48th. Shahil Dave was also brought on in the second half for last week’s hero Christopher Wasalasala and thrived alongside enforcer Ruben. Rewa did expose the weak defensive side of Dave’s game a few times but lacked the quality to score the winner.
In the end, a draw was probably a fair result in an entertaining game in Pacific Harbour. Meanwhile, the Labasa and Lautoka clash was cancelled due to poor ground conditions.
Suva midfielder Nickel Chand controls the ball against Rewa in the Vodafone Premier League clash at the Uprsing Sports Centre in Pacific Harbour on August 25, 2019.