FFAS > News > 2014 FFAS National League Division 1 > Utulei champions of men’s FFAS National League

Utulei champions of men’s FFAS National League

Utulei Youth completed a perfect record to earn the men’s 2014 FFAS National League championship title after a thrilling, come from behind, 2-1 victory against Lion Heart on Oct. 25.
“We are very happy about this win and it is a natural feeling for any team especially since this team was founded, this is the second time for us to have won an 11-a-side competition,” explained Rev. Ioane Evagelia, president and coach of the Utulei Youth squad.
It is the first time since the team’s inception in 1996 that they have won a championship title in the 11-a-side game.
“I came here in 1996 and soon after started our soccer team and have competed ever since,” recalled Evagelia. “We’ve won a few small sided tournaments such as a 5- or 7-a-side competition and this makes it complete for us as well as holding on to Cup at the end of the year.”
It was a nail biter from beginning to end with Utulei needing a tie or a win to claim the title and Lion Heart needing a win to take it for themselves by way of the differential in goals tiebreaker.
Conrado Kaleopa scored the game-winning goal with six minutes remaining in the match in a big turnaround for Utulei after the first half. Several minutes into the start of the second half Iotamo Lameta scored from inside the box off of a brilliant shot on goal to the near post.
“In the first half we were only concentrating on defending because we were just trying to close out the game with a tie,” explained Evagelia. “But we had to change that after Lion Heart’s score.”
Hiva Tuulau blasted a low cross into the back of the net midway through the first half to give Lion Heart a 1-0 lead and control of the match from that point.
“I said to my players, ‘This is not the team that I’ve seen from the beginning of the competition, I don’t know what team this is that’s out there playing,’” Evagelia recalled. “I was not happy with their performance in that first half and I was very worried as well.”
In the second half he changed his midfielders around and had his team change from defending to attacking more.
“It worked out well for us in that second half and I just thing that we were fortunate to have drawn Lion Heart as the last game on the schedule instead of playing them earlier,” he explained. “Having Lion Heart as the final opponent kept our players on their toes and training hard during this second round.”
Lion Heart finished second in the league, followed by FC SKBC at No. 3, Vaiala Tongan at No. 4 and PanSa to round out the five-team competition.
“I want to thank our president, Faiivae Iuli Alex Godinet, association and especially the referees for making this league possible and a great one to participate in,” thanked Evagelia. “We look forward to the upcoming President’s Cup competition and wish all the teams the best of luck.”

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