Raragia free-kick sealed victory for Malaita
GOALS from Clement Baegeni and Andrew Raragia saw Malaita Eagles defend the Solomon Cup with a 2-1 triumph over a gallant Central Shields side in the grand-final yesterday at Lawson Tama.
Going into the final as the firm favourites, the Eagles started the match on the front foot.
Malaita Eagles dominated the proceedings in the opening 10 minutes as in-form striker Baegeni could utilise some clear cut scoring opportunities.
On one occasion the tournament’s top scorer had the goal at his mercy only to fire his attempt inches wide.
A quick counter attack in the 3rd minute saw Fred Ani brought down to win a penalty for the Eagles.
Baegeni stepped up to smartly slot home a goal to put Malaita in front.
The 26-year-old attempted a scorpion kick moments after sending a goal bound effort off target.
Both teams went into the dressing room with the scoreboard reading 1-0 in favour of the Eagles.
Central Shields regrouped in the second half as they searched for an equaliser.
Their determination paid off when Simon Steven was fouled to earn a penalty.
Captain Oscar Sara led by example to convert from the spot to draw level.
The two teams created some scoring chances as they searched for a match winner in the later stages of the second half.
Eagles’ captain, Raragia was the hero as his free kick evaded the wall to drop in the top left.
Raragia’s goal proves to be the match winner as the Eagles retain the Solomon Cup and write history as the most successful side in the national football tournament with four titles since 1991.
Central Shields head coach Tome Kiki said despite the result coming second to Eagles is a proud achievement for his side.
Jubilant Malaita Eagles coach, Terry Oiaka said he was pleased with his lads overall performance.
“I am really happy with my players’ performance as I knew that the final won’t be easy.
“We respect Central as I urged my boys to step up and I thank my boys they have step up to the occasion,” he said.
Oiaka added it is a huge achievement for his young team to retain the title.
“It’s a big thing for us to defend the title as we know our province was known for winning the tournament with home based players during the days of Nelson Kabitana.
“In 2009 we last won the Solomon Cup with Honiara based players and now with all home grown players we did it again.
“This proves with our home based players we can do it by sticking together with discipline,” he stated.
He said the boys will go back home to celebrate the victory and prepare for the Solomon Games next year.
By SIMON ABANA