By ISAAC LIRI
IT will be history in the making for football this weekend, with the Kumul Petroleum National Soccer League (NSL) to be played in all four regions of the country.
The Muthuvel Stadium in Kimbe, West New Britain, will kick off its first round of competition with Papua New Guinea Football Association John Kapi Natto, Sports Vice-Minister Wesley Raminai and PNG Sports Foundation chief executive Peter Tsiamalili Jr heading to the province to witness the occasion.
AROB Chebu have made the trip by sea all the way from Bougainville and will be based in Kimbe while they participate in the NSL for the first time.
The Bougainvilleans will face their neighbouring province East New Britain’s Radazz in the opening match of the New Guinea Islands Conference while the two West New Britain sides — West Tribe and Greengold — face off in the main game.
Gazelle, from East New Britain, are on a bye.
AROB Chebu president Justin Helele said it was a milestone for them to finally have a team in the country’s premier football competition.
“It’s a dream come true for all players from Bougainville. We are known as a football region in the country and coming this far means a lot,” Helele said.
“Our players always read in the newspapers and watch news on TV about the NSL and to come this far is going to be an emotion experience for them.
“We take our hats off to the PNGFA president and the NSL board for having us.
“We have no big names in our team but we are confident we can give our opponents a good run for their money.
Radazz, on the other hand, have impressive talent who competed at the 7th PNG Games in Kimbe and will certainly be favourites in the NGI.
Up in Goroka, the National Sports Institute will host its third round with Highlands Conference ladder leaders Kagua Erave taking on Aporro Mai.
Both Southern Highlands franchises have proven to be major forces in the conference up in the mountains so it should be an interesting match-up.
Other games in Goroka will see Blue Kumuls play Mt Hagen and Simbu FC take on Enga Laima.
In Port Moresby, the Southern Conference will head into its fifth round with the Eastern Stars and Hekari facing off in the third game.
Eastern Stars have been struggling lately despite having enough experience and class in their squad, but a win over the unbeaten Hekari should lift their spirits.
Gulf Komara will be looking to make it three in a row when they play the in-form Port Moresby United in the first game of the conference on Saturday.
Port Moresby’s outstanding performance last week saw them pushing Hekari all the way, nearly ending up with a tie or a win, so they have proven to be a force to be reckoned with.
Bougainville will be taking on the Southern Strikers, who have not won a match since the opening round.
However, David Passam will be reminding his troops not to underestimate the Strikers if they want another win.
In the main game, Star Mountain are yet to register a win so it will not be easy against the in-form Central United outfit.
By ISAAC LIRI