Dwellers and Nalkutan into quarterfinals
BY ROMULUS HUTA
A 63rd minute strike by Solomon Islands international Tutizama Tanito helped Papua New Guinea (PNG) club Lae City Dwellers defeated Fiji’s Ba FC 1-0 in match day two of the Oceania Club Champions League Group A competition at Port Vila’s Korman Stadium in Vanuatu yesterday.
Tanito’s tidy goal emerged through a set-up from Raymond Gunemba.
The narrow win helped the PNG outfit to book qualification into the quarterfinals with a match to spare in the pool play.
Fellow Solomon Islander and defender Andrew Rarangia also featured in the Dwellers line-up alongside Tanito in the win.
I’m proud of the boys,” Lae City Dwellers coach Raymond Gunemba said.
“When we saw Ba play on Saturday we were thinking ‘can we go through?’, but we got our confidence and thought we could win and we did.
“Ba is a very good side, very experienced in the Champions League but we also thought we could surprise them.”
Ba coach Ronil Kumar was somewhat lost for words at the full-time whistle.
“Actually I can’t say much about it. We learned a lot out of it. We started the game really well but the thing was, you have to score if you want to win. We didn’t score, they win. They score, they win.
“One positive from the performance was that of Josaia Ratu, who impressed despite carrying an injury.
“He was the number one goalkeeper for us and when he was on the field, he did his best.”
The result means Ba is now out of contention for a place in the quarterfinals following two losses.
Ba’s first loss was against Ni-Vanuatu side Nalkutan, where a spot kick by Solomon Islands beach soccer poster boy James Naka inspired the hosts to a first win at the Oceania level, giving a bright start to their campaign.
Besides Naka, another two Solomon Islander also features for Nalkutan in the form of Joses Nawo and veteran defender Nelson Sale. Nawo is currently serving match suspension following his dismissal in the first match.
Nalkutan joins Dwellers in the quarterfinal after their second win yesterday.
This follows their 4-0 thrashing of Cook Islands representative Tupapa Maraerenga in the final action of Group A match day two with goals coming from Azariah Soromon, Naka, Raoul Coulon and Roddy Lenga.
Nalkutan and Lae City Dwellers’ six points from two matches mean they’ll finish in the top two positions in the group, and their final match on Friday will determine who gets the home quarter final.
Prior to the showdown at 5pm, Ba and Tupapa Maraerenga will meet at 2pm in their final encounter of the OFC Champions League Group A competition.