Canada claims the Legends Division of the FANCA Muslim Silver Jubilee tournament with a 4-3 shootout win against Australia at the Prince Charles Park in Nadi, Fiji : FANCA photo

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Attitude wins, not ranking

Opinions / Analysis

IF only football ranking guaranteed championship, Lautoka would have won the Battle of the Giants.

And Rewa, Suva, Nadi and Ba would have been real contenders based on the National Football League standings.

But ranking is just a measure of a team’s competitive strength based on games and head-to-head wins.

What wins championships is attitude and the desire to win.

While Rewa made it to the final, it is Labasa, the sixth placed team of the Digicel Premier League and struggling, beat them, 2-1 to win the Battle of the Giants on Sunday.

Hard work

Tenacity and hard work had Labasa claim their fourth B.O.G title, a first finale between the two teams since the inception of the tournament in 1978.

Rewa, who was Fiji’s OFC Champions League representative had bookies tip to replicate the championship but met fate in the finale.

Much like Rewa, ranked league teams like, Lautoka, Suva, Nadi and Ba had come into the tournament with a better record but failed to live up to the billing.

And besides Nadi and Ba who sit at fourth and fifth place on the league table, Lautoka and Suva did not even make it to the semifinals.

Pride of lions

Gauging by Labasa’s league performance, no one would have wagered on them.

But for the pride of lions, it was game on, prey in the name of hard-work and desire to reach for stars in the face of adversity.

“It was a work in progress during the tournament in Lautoka,” said head coach Ravneel Pratap.

“We believed in the players.”

After losing 2-0 to Nadi, Pratap called on his players to step it up against Ba in the semifinal, who beat them 2-1 before obliterating Rewa with a similar score line.

“We regrouped, strategized after the Nadi loss.”

The change in attitude is what had the lions take on teams with their brand of football, though it was not easy to tame the tigers.

Labasa and Rewa played an evenly contested match, yet cautious on decisive attacking and defensive play with their own fashion of the game.

A star off the bench

The super-sub-France Catarogo waited for his moment in time, chased down the ball to nudge it for the game winner.

The goal in the first half of the extra time got the adrenaline going for the Labasa fans in the stadium.

France, who is the son of Solomoni Catarogo, the former Labasa and national team footballer, dedicated his goal to his dad as it was Father’s Day.

Named after the nation of France, the world football prowess and reigning World Cup champions, France have Labasa celebrate.

National reps on target

Ashneel Raju scored the first goal for Labasa in the second minute.

Tevita Waranivalu equalized in the 72nd minute.

Nothing to show

Rewa coach Marika Rodu said the team had been performing consistently.

But remarked, they do not have anything to show for.

“We lost in the Fiji FACT, and we bowed out of the Champi­ons League and now the B.O.G. We have not won the League.”

Stoddard calls for consistency

The tournament did not score well in the eyes of country’s voice of soccer Raymond Stoddart, he said during the live broadcast that players lack the tactical skills, decision making while in the penalty box, and it is an area of concern.

“When to shoot and or pass, when in the penalty area.”

Raymond said players lack consistency in decision making.

“Defense, midfield and forward needs to be worked on.”

Father’s Day gift

For now, Labasa reigns champions on attitude and hard work, who dedicated their victory to all fathers as it was Father’s Day.

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