Fiji's 2009 powerhouse club Navua has held O-League representatives Lautoka to a 1-1 draw in the opening match of the Champion Versus Champion (CVC) series at Churchill Park on Sunday.
Both goals in the match were scored from perfectly timed free kicks in the second half of play. Stylish Lautoka midfielder Jone Vono Junior gave the home side the lead after 62 minutes of play before Navua's new signing Maciu Dundamu equalised from a similar position in the 80th minute.
Despite dominating possession in the first half, the home side were unable to breach the Navua defence and the score remained 0-0 at halftime. Adding spice to the clash, Lautoka's 2010 roster boasts Avin Avinesh and Lorima Dau who both played for Navua last season.
An estimated 4,000 fans turned up to watch the 2010 Fiji Football Association (Fiji FA) season opener between the same two sides that contested the 2009 Inter District Championship (IDC) final. On that occasion Navua took home the title, one of a remarkable haul of five they won last year, with a 2-0 victory.
Navua coach Gurjit Singh says his side never gave up hope despite going a goal behind.
"I'm happy with the way my boys played. Both teams were equal on strength and it was a great effort from my boys to play until the final whistle and equalise. We lost a few players this season to another district but our new signings like striker Maciu Dunadamu and Henry Dyer did well to help us salvage a draw today," said Singh.
Lautoka coach Imdad Ali felt his team were unlucky not to secure three crucial points at home.
"I suppose nothing really went wrong in the match for us. It was unfortunate to see a goal scored against us but the boys really played their hearts out. We are now looking forward to our next match," Ali said.
Lautoka's next CVC match will be against Ba on Wednesday at 7pm Fijian time. Navua's next series fixture sees them travel to Govind Park on February 22nd when they will also face Ba.
Lautoka: 1. Alifereti Baleloa (GK), 2. Samuela Kautoga, 3. Lorima Dau, 4. Samuela Vula, 6. Malakai Waqa, 10. Kamal Hassan, 12. Alvin Avinesh, 15. Osea Vakatalesau, 16. Jone Vono Junior (Sailesh Sami 75'), 17. Arvindra Naidu (Valerio Nawatu 53'), 18. Marika Madigi;
Substitues: 7. Valerio Nawatu, 8. Laitia Tuilau, 9. Leone Vurukania, 11. Abinesh Sailesh Sami, 13. Apisai Smith, 14. Alvin Prasad, 20. Pramesh Prasad;
Cautions: Hassan 73', Osea V 88'
Navua: 1. Benamino Mateinqara (GK), 2. Praneel Kumar, 4. Seveci Rokotakala, 5.Pene Erenio, 7.Henry Dyer, 8. Usaia Tadu, 9. Maciu Dundamu 11. Rajnil Chand (65' Jale Vota), 12. Siga Ali (73' Monit Chand), 14. Taniela Waqa, 17. Simione Maikali;
Substitutes: 10. Monit Chand, 15. Sheik Moshin, 16. Jale Vota;
Caution: Dyer 45', Tadu 49', Waqa 78'
Story and photo courtesy of Fiji FA