Once again the sun-kissed Sugar City will play host to thousands of players, officials and fans for the 2020 Punjas Battle of the Giants Tournament.
The ‘Baby Blues’ have never won the BOG title at home, despite featuring in five finals. In 2019 they lost 0-1 in the final against Labasa.
In fact, it has been slim pickings for Lautoka when it comes to the BOG. They have won the title once twice since 1978. The first win was in 1985, when they defeated Suva 2-0 in the final at National Stadium in Suva, and the second in in 2016 when they beat Labasa 2-0 in extra time at Ratu Cakobau Park in Nausori. After being losing finalists in 1992, 2001, 2009, 2013, 2014 and 2019, they are determined to do one better.
The side means business, and are now ‘under new management’ for the 2020 Punjas BOG. They have hired former Fiji FA Technical Director and Fiji’s only A-Licensed coach Ravinesh Kumar to guide them. Kumar’s influence is already evident in the team’s performance in the Vodafone Premier League, where they recently ran league leaders Rewa close.
Kumar will plot Lautoka’s campaign in the Punjas BOG and has a host of experienced players to rely on. This includes Dave Radrigai, Zibraaz Sahib, Jone Vono Jnr, Edward Justin, Aeron Edward, Sekove Finau and Netani Doli. They will be supported by young stars Muni Shivam Naidu, Raj Pillay, Zainal Hussein, Merril Nand, Kevin Singh, Samuela Gavo and James Pillay.
With the mix of players backed by a strong team of administrators and sponsors, Coach Kumar appears to have everything he would need to claim a BOG title for the Sugar City side. They will have no shortage of fan support either.
This side is in Group B, and faces an uphill battle against Rewa, Nadi and Navua. Lautoka will start its campaign against Rewa on the opening day on Friday August 7, while the second match will be against Navua on Saturday at 1pm. Their final pool match will be against neighbours Nadi on Sunday at 4pm