Defending champions Sydney Ba suffered a shock defeat as the veterans soccer tournament action in Auckland intensified yesterday.
Tournament favourites Sydney Ba on Friday had hammered Rewa 5-0 had yesterday morning defeated Natabua Old Boys 2-0 in the NZ Fiji Veteran Soccer Association fixture being played at Bill McKinley Park in Mt Wellington, and Centre Park, Mangere.
The star-studded Sydney Ba side - including former Fiji reps Esala Masi, Shailendra Lal, Arif Azam, and Jason Lal – went down 0-1 to Hamilton Nadroga at Centre Park.
Despite the hitch, the Sydney Ba side were upbeat about their chances as no further games would be played at the bumpy Centre Park.
“The bumpy Centre Park ground was not suitable for soccer at all,” Shailendra Lal, former Suva rep, told Indian Weekender.
“No self-respecting team should have been allowed to play soccer in those conditions,” Lal said.
“But we’re not making any excuses, and we’ll take things in our stride.”
Team-mate Esala Masi, named Player of the Day on Friday, said he had also suffered a slight ankle injury on the bumpy surface.
A total 33 teams are competing in the tournament which kicked off on Wednesday evening – 25 teams in the over-35s competition and eight in the over-40s. This includes seven teams from Sydney and one from Melbourne.
The over-40s are playing for Billy Singh Memorial Cup, while the over-35s are competing for Billy’s father, Sashi Mahendra Singh Cup.
Tournament official Aiyaz Khan said he was happy with the way the tournament had progressed so far, and even better day was expected today and tomorrow, if good weather holds out.
Khan said all pool games will be decided today and only quarters, semis and finals will be played on Monday.
More than 600-700 spectators filled the grounds yesterday and even fuller stands were expected today and tomorrow.
Yesterday’s results: Sydney Nadi bt Melbourne Master (WBD), NZ Suva 1, Hamilton Nadroga 1 (40s).
Over 35s: Sydney Ba 2, Sydney Ex-Natabua 0; Hamilton Nadroga 5, NZ Suva 0; NZ Savusavu 0, NZ Masters; Sydney Nadroga 2, NZ Nadroga 1; NZ Lautoka Blues 3, NZ Labasa 1; NZ Jet Set 1, NZ Dreketi 0; Melbourne Masters 5, NZ Levuka 0; Sydney Suva 0, NZ Ba 3; NZ Nadi 1, Sydney Xavier OB 0, NZ Lautoka Masters 1, NZ Men in Black 1.
Sydney Combined 3, NZ Labasa 0; NZ Dreketi 0, NZ Lami 2; Sydney Suva 0, NZ Nadi 0; Sydney Golden Boots 0, NZ Suva 1; Sydney Ba 0, Hamilton Nadroga 1; Sydney ex-Nats 1, NZ Suva 0; Sydney Nadroga 0, NZ Savusavu 0.
NZ Lautoka Blues 2, NZ Tavua 0; Sydney Nadi 0, NZ Jet Set 2; NZ Lautoka Masters 3, NZ Levuka 0; NZ Ba 0, Sydney Xavier OB 0; NZ Masters 1, NZ Nadroga 0; Hamilton Nadroga 1, Sydney Ba 0. Over-40s: Sydney Nadi 2, NZ Nadroga 1; Melbourne Masters 0, NZ Levuka 2.