BY ROMULUS HUTA
MARIST coach says they have a high chance of reaching the grand final of the Oceania Champions League (OCL) following the one-all draw attained against Lautoka in the semi-final first leg away encounter at Churchill Park on Sunday.
Speaking during the post-match conference, Marist head coach Jerry Allen said the away draw gives them advantage over their opponent heading into the second leg where its outcome will decide on the fate of the two teams in the region’s premier club competition.
During the away encounter, Davidson Tome scored to put Marist infront within 36 minutes of the first half when he perfectly met a cross in the six-yard box after coming in behind Kavaia Rawaqa to blast the shot past the Lautoka custodian Beniamino Mateinaqara who could do nothing to stop it.
Marist held on to the one goal lead until halftime break.
The match resumed for the second half and veteran Fijian striker Osea Vakatalesau was quick to equalise with a glancing header in the 49th minute.
The goal emerged via a corner whipped in from the left by attacking midfielder Cory Chettleburgh where Vakatalesau made no mistake leaping higher above the crowd to send it into the back of the net.
The equaliser appeared to have frustrated Allen, especially after previously warning them about the talent of Lautoka’s players.
Allen told the boys to avoid conceding any goal when they were leading 1-0 by halftime break.
“I think we played well in the first half and okay in the second, but we conceded. I knew it would happen there, from a set piece,” Allen said.
“I know Osea (Vakatalesau) well, Brian (Kaltack) some of the other boys, I used to coach them before with Hekari and so I reminded my players what they can do.
“Osea has good height, and he used it in the corner even though I warned them.”
Allen stressed that the plan now is to go out and win the final leg at home where he expects their performance to be buoyed by the support they will receive from fans at Lawson Tama.
“The plan now is to go home, work on some things and prepare once more – we have a big chance to do something great at home next week.”
Atkin Kaua will make a return onto starters’ list this Sunday. The young midfield maestro sat out the first leg through injury.
Marist’s goal scorer on Sunday Tome will miss the second leg on suspension after picking up his second yellow card at Churchill Park.
Goalkeeper Anthony Talo is also in doubt for the return leg as he is currently nursing an injury following a collision with Vakatalesau earlier on in the game infront of the goalmouth.
The collision left first-choice Talo to be replaced by second choice Harold Nauina.
The second leg at Lawson Tama this Sunday will kick off at 3pm.
With an action pic of Fa’arodo in action