By HENRY MORABANG
MRDC Hekari United FC will meet a new-look Eastern Stars FC in an uphill battle when the Telikom National Soccer League challenge enters round three at Lloyd Robson Oval in Port Moresby tomorrow.
Interestingly, the Stars had gone on a major recruitment to boost their campaign this season with a number of former Hekari players like Cyril Muta, Danny Banaba, Tagaya Lepani, Michael Foster and Abraham Enoch, who will be up against their former teammates.
Cyril will be up against his elder brother, David, who was the key behind Hekari’s latest string of victories, including the O-League match against Koloale FC of Solomon Islands last weekend.
Both had been playing for Hekari since moving to Port Moresby, but Cyril was released by the club making way for Fijian import Alvin Singh, who has settled in well. During a friendly, Stars made a second half comeback to force a 2-2 draw against the PNG champions.
Apart from former Hekari players, the Solomon Islands duo of Paul Wale and Timothy Joe will prove they are valuable assets for the Milne Bay franchise.
Hekari will use this match to fine-tune their preparations before departing for Abu Dhabi, next week.
Hekari coach Jerry Allen and Tommy Mana are likely to field the same team that played Koloale FC.
Fijian No.1 striker Osea Vakatalesau is likely to play Eastern Stars this weekend.
Vakatalesau has not been playing since arriving in PNG three months ago because there was no international transfer certificate (ITC) from his former club, Lautoka FC.
But another Fijian Tuimasi Manuca should be back in the forwards forcing his compatriot Malakai Tiwa to combine with David in the centre.
In the backline, Singh and workaholic Koriak Upaiga and Pita Bolaitoga would be hard to beat in the last-line of defence.
In Lae, Petro Souths are expecting their first win of the season when they clash with Besta (PNG) United.
Petro Souths coach Matthew Witu said yesterday that he was confident his boys would give their opponents a good match.
He said their opponents had been in the NSL competition for the last two years and they were aware of the standard of competition but his boys would be out to give them an entertaining encounter.
“We will be going in there to try our best and have a good game. The boys are looking forward to the game ,” Witu said.
Petro Souths have recruited Mathias Apo, who had a stint with Gigira Morobe Kumuls and Pedro Ajakopa of Madang Fox, while Peter Tawelo has been recalled after sitting out last season.
Ajakopa and Apo were also former players of the defunct Welgris Highlands under Witu, while Jacob Senart, who was displaced after Besta (PNG) United opted for Ronald Warisan, will be out to prove his worth against his former teammates.