By LARRY ANDREW
EREMA Gulf FC made the most of their goal-scoring opportunities, edging a determined Morobe United FC 4-3 in the inaugural Football Federation Papua New Guinea (FFPNG) Champions League grand final in Lae on Saturday.
In the third place play-off, Hekari United FC hammered Markham FC 5-1.
Among the large crowd at the Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium were FFPNG President John Kapi Natto, Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu and Community Development, Youth and Religion Minister Soroi Eoe.
Morobe United and Erema, champions of the Northern and Southern Conference respectively, matched each other in all departments for the most part of the game.
But Erema started on a high note, with Rupa Emil, Mike Gita, Ryan Gerega and verteran Tau Winnie threatening Morobe United’s defence.
Morobe United also had opportunities but failed to convert them into goals.
The game was in the balance until the 43rd minute when Morobe United captain Rodney Talau committed a handball while trying to defend his goalmouth.
Erema captain Pakot Poesi made sure of the penalty, sailing the ball past Morobe United keeper Jordan Tobem to give the Southern Conference franchise a 1-0 lead heading into the break.
The home side came out firing in the second half after Morobe United coach Jack Jonathan demanded more urgency from his players.
The pressure led to a corner kick which saw Morobe United midfielder Eliude Fugre equalise 1-1.
However, the equaliser did not last long as Emil deflected the ball in off Morobe United’s Richie Biaro to restore their lead 2-1.
Morobe United, with their home crowd behind them, saw replacement Joshua Oscar tying the game 2-2 at the 75th minute. The match was forced into extra time.
Erema’s Maso Haro extended his team’s lead to 3-2 with a header a minute into the extra time.
But, as always the case for much of the game, Morobe kept pace with Erema through an equaliser by Hendry Ronny.
With the scores locked at three goals apiece, Erema’s Ilagi Geno proved the match winner after deflecting the ball in off Morobe United’s replacement keeper Vagi Koniel.
Erema won the cup and pocketed K20,000, runners-up Morobe United received K15,000, Hekari bagged K10,000 and Markham FC went home with K5000.
By LARRY ANDREW