Puia foils u-turn

VICTOROUS - Renbel Ibis hero multi talented athlete, Lavernstar Puia celebrates his late winner against Central Shield yesterday. Photo PETER ZOLEVEKE II.
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Ibis third in Group B


A killer goal by Renbel Ibis forward Lavernstar Puia in the dying seconds of extra time saw ibis upset Central Shields in Day 6 of the 2020 Solomon Cup yesterday.

Following their 7-0 mauling to Honiara Warriors in their opening match on Tuesday, Central Shields Head Coach Tome Kiki said his side were hoping to make a U-turn against ibis in their second match of the competition.

However, the Batram Suri ibis coached side shocked Shields with a 1-0 victory, causing one of the tournament’s biggest upset in Group B.

The win moves ibis into third position with four points after three matches played behind Isabel Frigates in second and Makira Ulawa Kakamora in first position.

It was a game full of intensity with both sides having equal opportunities in front of the goal mouth. Shields attack led by veteran Oscar Sara, despite a number of chances failed to penetrate a disciplined Ibis back three defenses, led by Patterson Tongaka.

Ibis pressed throughout both halves, thanks to the continuous well-managed ball distribution from central attacking midfielder Jorge B Tongaka, who kept speedsters Steve Mane and Puia busy in causing havoc for Shields defense, with a number of clear goal scoring opportunities.    

A switch in the remaining ten minutes of the second half by Coach Suri saw Puia moved to the right flanks after calling off Tongaka, with ibis almost penetrating Shields defense time and time again.

Despite Shields defense holding on for the whole of the 90 minutes, their shields were finally cracked in the dying seconds of extra time when a loose high lob from the center was chased down by Puia who managed to win the ball in the 50/50 encounter with Shields custodian.

His header was right on the money, heading the ball over and into the open net in the 91+2 minute of the game.

“The victory for us is good to match the other teams in the group and hopefully finish second to qualify for the next stage,” a relieved Suri said after the game.

“We will try our best to maintain second because I believe that Makira will go through as leaders so we have to fight for the second place.

“I’m very happy with the performance of the boys, they showed courage and never give up the fighting spirit until the final whistle.

Ibis now have a crucial game at hand against host Honiara Warriors while Central Shields has two games left against Isabel Frigates and Makira Ulawa Kakamora who tops Group B with six points following their 3-0 win over Isabel Frigates in the 1pm clash yesterday.

With Honiara Warriors up next for Renbel ibis, Coach Suri knows their chances of collecting all three points will be tough but vows to give the capital side their best, as they seek qualification for the knockout stages.

“Our chances in the last match will not be easy, at the end of the day the boys worked hard for these points. It’s a slim chance for us if we should make it through.

“Our preparation ahead for a team like Honiara will be challenging but I will try my best out of the best to help the team prepare, perform and match the capital players,” says Suri.