The second major tournament in the Fiji FA Calendar, INKK Mobile Battle of the Giants tournament has been done and dusted with
The 2018 edition of the Inkk Mobile Battle of the Giants tournament entered its 40th year and it has all the lasting memory is of football and the glory that it brings into our lives. The BOG is now the second longest running tournament in Fiji and carries with it the prestige of age and the honor that comes with it.
Those who don’t know, the first BOG was held to re-coup losses by the Suva FA in the 1977 IDC. Football as we could see develop friendship and ties between people of all races and backgrounds.
The first BOG was held at Govind Park in Ba in 1978 which was sponsored by Air Pacific & JR White & Company. Nadi was the first team to engrave their name on the silverware beating host Ba 1-0 in the final.
Ba then known as the champions of Fiji Football keeps the record of winning title for 16 times while Rewa is on second putting their hand on the trophy eight times.
The 2018 INKK Mobile Battle of the Giants tournament was officially opened by Australian High Commissioner to Fiji His Excellency John Feakes.
In the first match of the tournament Stylish striker Sairusi Nalaubu scored a goal in each half to guide defending champion Rewa to a 2-1 while Nadi kicked off its Battle of Giants (BOG) campaign on a high note and thumped Dreketi 4-0 in Group.
In Group B host Lautoka had to fight tooth and nail to beat a determined and plucky Tavua outfit while Ba registered an impressive 2-0 win over arch rivals Labasa.
A total of ten goals were scored on the opening day of the tournament with a very competitive level of football displayed by all the eight team.
On day two Suva regrouped after their loss against Rewa and thrashed minnows Dreketi 6-0 while the defending champions Rewa went down 2-0 against Nadi.
Stylish striker Abbu Zahid scored four goals in the second half as Ba thumped neighbors Tavua 4-0 while Labasa bounced back to winning ways and defeated host Lautoka 1-0 in a thrilling Group B encounter.
A total of 13 goals was scored on day two.
The final day of the pool stages was exciting as no team so far had confirmed their spot in the top after losing a match each.
Rewa registered a hard fought 3-2 win over Dreketi in their final Group A match but had to await the result between Suva vs Nadi match.
In group A each team had six points in bag but Suva and Nadi qualified for the semi-finals with the better goal average after the Capital City side defeated Jetsetter 2-0 sending defending champions Rewa home.
Labasa booked its spot in the semifinals after thrashing Tavua 5-0 in its final Group while Ba despite 2-0 loss against Lautoka qualified for the semi-finals.
Suva booked its spot in the grand final of the 2018 INKK Mobile Battle Of Giants (BOG) after beating Labasa 1-0 in extra time of their semifinal clash. Striker Savenaca Nakalevu netted the winner for the Gurjit Singh coached side in the 107th minute as both teams failed to score in normal time and first spell of extra time. The sides entered the match with a lot of focus and determination. Cautious play and some tight defending from both teams saw them rest goal-less at halftime with Labasa pulling out top striker Christopher Wasasala just before the break and replacing him with Thomas Steiner. The momentum of the game picked up in the second half as the teams started to build play from midfield and launch attacks. A knee injury saw Suva replace top defender Waisake Navunigasau midway in the second half. And the Whites also lost sweeper Remueru Tekiate later in the match through an ankle injury. Lekima Gonerau had the best chance of the game in the 67th minute as he made a beautiful run on the left flank and took a powerful shot, only to be denied by the post. Suva on the other hand was denied in the 78th minute by goalkeeper Akuila Mateisuva who brilliantly blocked a Bruce Hughes attempt by putting his body on the line. With no goals scored in normal time and the first spell of extra time, Suva went all attacking from the start of the second spell and managed to find Hughes in the clear who neatly laid the ball into Nakalevu’s path to snatch the winner.
16-time champion Ba has progressed to the final of the 2018 INKK Mobile Battle Of Giants (BOG) after outclassing Nadi 4-0 in the second semifinal. The Men In Black were in sublime form and went into attack from the opening whistle. Lanky marksman Saula Waqa headed in the opener in the 11th minute of play as the Nadi defence was ball watching and failed to make a clearance on time. Returning from a three-match suspension, striker Samuela Nabenia made his presence felt in the 22nd minute as he outpaced the defence and placed the ball beyond the reach of goalkeeper Vereti Dickson. Ba led 2-0 at halftime and continued with its dominance in the second spell as well. Nadi was reduced to ten players in the 60th minute after nippy defender Afraz Ali was sent off by the match referee Kavitesh Behari for verbally abusing match officials and using foul language at them, while disputing a decision. Waqa scored his second and Ba’s third goal in the 64th minute and Nabenia sealed the big win the 84th minute as pounced on a rebound off a Malakai Rakula attempt.
Now the two finalist for the 2018 INKK Mobile Battle of the Giants tournament was decided and it was Ba that claimed its 17th Battle Of Giants (BOG) title after beating Suva 2-0 in extra time of a pulsating final. The Men In Black netted their goals in the second spell of extra time as both teams failed to find the back of the net in normal time and first spell of extra time. Ba entered the final with the favorites tag after thumping Nadi 4-0 in the semifinal yesterday, but a spirited and determined Suva outfit proved to be worthy opponents and matched them in all aspects of the match. Both teams opted to play 4-4-2 formation and this somewhat made the style of play similar. After an evenly matched and tight first half, the teams looked more settled and confident in second spell and shots start to flow in on the two goalmouths. Ba Captain Malakai Tiwa missed a golden chance in the 68th minute as he only needed to place the ball as the defence and goalkeeper was beaten, but he shot over the cross-bar. Savenaca Nakalevu, Bruce Hughes, Shahil Dave and Captain Ravinesh Karan Singh posed some threats on the Ba goal with shots but good timing by goalie Josaia Ratu and stable defending by evergreen Avinesh Waran Swamy kept the Whites at bay. As the match headed into extra time, Ba introduced youngsters Kini Madigi and Simione Nabenu and the pair made all the difference as they used their speed and agility well to set up their goals. The first spell of extra time failed to produce any goal but a nice floated deep cross from Madigi on the right flank in the second minute of the second spell saw Zahid sneak in with a header to send the 5000+ crowd into a frenzy. Suva in its quest to find the equalizer, tried out all possible combinations and goalkeeper Simione Tamanisau also pushed himself forward during set-plays. And in one of the free-kicks, where he got involved upfront, Ba managed to clear the ball away and find Nabenu who outpaced a few defenders and placed the ball into the path of Samuela Nabenia to score the second goal and consolidate victory for Ba as the goalmouth was empty with Tamanisau failing to fall back in time. Ba won $15,000 for finishing on top while Suva walked away with $4000 for its efforts in reaching the final.
Suva was also awarded the Fair Play Team of the Tournament while Ba’s Abbu Zahid scooped the Golden Boot and Golden Ball Award. Ba’s goalkeeper Josaia Ratu was named the goalkeeper of the tournament.
The teams: Ba- Josaia Ratu, Avinesh Swamy, Laisenia Raura, Meli Codro, Malakai Rakula (Simione Nabenu), Abbu Zahid, Manasa Nawakula, Malakai Tiwa (C), Naren Rao (Kini Madigi), Saula Waqa, Samuela Nabenia. Professional Valuation Suva- Simione Tamanisau, Remueru Tekiate, Waisake Navunigasau, Epeli Leiroti, Sakaraia Naisua, Ravinesh Karan Singh (C), Kelvin Naidu (Kaliova Tivulu), Filipe Baravilala, Shahil Dave, Bruce Hughes, Savenaca Nakalevu.

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