The National, Monday 15th April, 2013
By HENRY MORABANG
HEKARI United coach Jerry Allen says his men will do their best in their three remaining games before the semi-finals of the Oceania Championships League start on May 4.
The Solomon Islands coach is optimistic despite his side falling 2-0 to Ba of Fiji in the third round at Govind Park, in Ba, on Saturday.
Allen, who led Hekari to six O-League championships, including winning the 2010 O-League, knows what it takes.
He assured Hekari fans his players would give their best in the last three games. Those games will see Hekari playing Amicale on Wednesday in the midweek clash in Port Vila, Vanuatu, (April 17) and then play Solomon Warriors at Lawson Tama Stadium on Saturday (April 20) before returning home to host the Warriors at PRL Stadium on April 27.
“I don’t know what to say about today, the boys played well and could have scored but we missed a penalty and couldn’t take the other chances we had,” he said.
“It will now be very difficult for us but we have three games remaining and will do our best.”
A pair of 2-0 home victories took place in Group A, with Amicale beating Solomon Warriors and Ba triumphing over Hekari United to leave the losing sides with just one point each to show from their efforts so far.
Home advantage the proved telling factor in the Hekari-Ba match as the Fijians welcomed the chance to play on their own soil after beginning with two away matches.
The game attracted a large crowd and those fans had plenty to cheer about as their heroes continued their strong start to the tournament.
The locals of the football-mad town turned out in force with high hopes and were rewarded for their fanatical support when Malakai Tiwa fired home for Ba in the 18th minute after being played in by Sanni Issa.
Nigerian striker Issa scored in the 80th minute to finally make the game safe and Hekari’s unhappy day was complete when Pita Bolatoga picked up his second caution and was dismissed in injury time.
Hekari had earlier spurned their best chance to get back into the game when Ba goalkeeper Jone Ralulu saved a Kema Jack penalty just before the hour mark.
Ba coach Yogendra Dutt was pleased to have recorded another win but is aware there is still much work to be done.
“We are close to what we have decided to do this year,” he said. “Now we will have a recovery and then we will watch today’s game to prepare for our upcoming matches.”
The OFC Champions League continues on Wednesday with Amicale hosting Hekari and Solomon Warriors travelling to Ba.
New Zealand sides Auckland City and Waitakere United are expected to domainte Pool A.