By HENRY MORABANG
HEKARI United FC are a game away from the final after defeating Fiji’s Lautoka 1-0 at Churchill Park yesterday in Match Day 5 of O-League challenge.
It was Solomon Islands import Henry Fa’arodo, who despite a cut on his face, scored a brilliant goal to put the PNG champions in front of Group B on the points table.
After yesterday’s victory, Hekari now head the points ladder with 10 points followed by Lautoka nine, Tafea eight and Marist with one point.
In the other group B match, Marist held a more fancied Tafea to a 0-0 draw putting Hekari clear leaders in their pool.
Hekari franchise owner John Kapi Natto said the match between the two champion clubs went down to wire with a 0-0 in the opening half.
Hekari stood tall and tough despite the rough house tactics employed by Lautoka players which resulted in Joachim Waroi’s ankle injury and a cut to Fa’arodo’s face.
He said the second half was beautiful with touch-touch football where Fa’arodo scored a brilliant goal that gave the PNG champions the victory.
Kapi Natto said the rough tactics resulted in Lautoka slapped with two red cards as well as four to five yellow cards.
He added that the victory was for PNG football, especially for the family and supporters of Hekari United FC.
Despite a game away from the O-League final, Hekari must win the remaining game against Marist of Solomon Islands in two weeks time at Lawson Tama Stadium, Honiara, to secure the final spot against the winners of Group A – either against Auckland City or Waitekere.
Both Auckland and Waitekere are separated by a point, and if either of them win, they will face Hekari who have a good chance to make the final.
Eastern Star franchise owner Joseph Ealedona, who was still celebrating his team’s 3-1 victory over Tukoko University in the Telikom National Soccer League (NSL) on Saturday, was the first to congratulate Hekari United for their one- goal victory over Lautoka.
“Congratulations to Hekari United for their win. They have made PNG soccer proud in reaching the final stages of the group matches,” he said.