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Footballers play friendly out of respect

Opinions / Analysis

IT was a field of former footballing greats.


Without fanfare or a roar, it was an afternoon of football played out of respect like no other.

The Rewa Legends and Suva Masters who once drew love and affinity during their playing days showcased their talent as a mark of respect to Onnie Wong, Vilitate Lee and George Koi, who passed away a few years ago.

The match was officially kicked off by 86-year old former Fiji striker Zikar Ali.

The footballers were the occasion, defying age, stepped in and stepped up to participate in a friendly game.

For Rewa Legends, the match culminated after an intense week of meet and greet of former teammates, paying homage to the families of the departed and making time to train together for the game.

While all the more focus was on the match, the spotlight was on Mohammed Salim, the iconic 80's midfielder, who returned to the football pitch after 4-decades

The 65-year old, showed glimpses of old that earned him the status as one of the country’s greatest midfielders.

“Slim, and still has that ball to eye coordination that made him one of the best footballers in the country in the 80's,” said Tony Kabakoro, Salim’s 80's national teammate, who played for Suva Legends.

Dynamic 80's team

Salim was a part of Rewa’s star studded 80's, team that had so much talent but failed to win a championship.

He was in the company of football phenom Abdul Mannan, Jimmy Okete, Vula Wate, Stan Morell, Don Sahim, Dineshwar Singh, Archie Watkins, Ronald Mani, Dennis Murray, Vatu King and some of the best players of the era.

Close but no cigars

The closest Rewa came on winning a silverware was in the 1985 Inter District Championship and the Battle of the Giants final, losing to Lautoka 2-1, and 3-0 on both the occasions.

All about respect: Tony

Tony Kabakoro, Suva’s 80's midfield wizard was happy to get some game time with Suva Masters.

“It was all about playing out of respect to Onnie Wong, Vilitate Lee and George Koi.

“We lost 3-0, but it was one game where nobody lost, and everyone won.”

Tony was a star player alongside Jone Ratu on Suva’s 81 and 83, IDC winning team.

Jone was the hero of the 1981, IDC team, he scored a brace against Ba that ended their 6-in row winning streak.

"Jone was a part of Rewa Legends."

“Much of Rewa Legends and Suva Masters team were made up of the 90's players."

Tony praised Rewa Legends for organizing the two weekend event.

Rewa Legends won the match 3-0.


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