The National- Monday, February 7, 2011
By HENRY MORABANG
OCEANIA champions MRDC Hekari United salvaged a 3-3 draw with Fijian Malakai Tiwa slamming home a shot in injury time against Amicale FC of Vanuatu on Saturday and keep their hopes of retaining the O-League title alive.
Tiwa, the versatile all-rounder kicked the equaliser after the PNG champions were trailing 3-2 in the best part of the second half.
In the opening half, after failed attempt by Abraham Iniga, Henry Fa’arodo and David Muta, Amicale started to take control of the game to send Hekari scattering all over the field.
Hekari had a free kick about 25m from the goal but Amicale defender Young Paul headed the ball away.
Vanuatu’s Solomon Islands import Alick Maemae, striker Fenedy Masavakalo and Jack Wetney joined forces to create opportunities but could not find the target.
The Vanuatu champions continued to dominate until Iniga was fouled by Daudau relieving the pressure for Hekari and a free kick awarded to the visitors.
With the game tense, Amicale won a penalty in the 37th minute when Hekari fullback David Taro brought down sneaky Maemae in the box.
Maemae made no mistake with the spot kick to send Hekari goalkeeper Gure Gabina diving on the wrong side to neatly place the ball into the net to go up by one goal.
In the second half, Hekari made their first substitution bringing in deadly Fijian striker Osea Vakatalesau for Neil Hans.
Amicale scored their second goal soon after through Dereck Malas, who received a good pass from Maemae.
A minute later, Hekari striker Kema Jack had perfect opportunity to get his side in the scorebook but failed to convert.
Hekari goalkeeper Gure Gabina had to work overtime with striker Masauvakalo bombarding him with several powerful shots but managed to put them away.
Heavy rain also in the second half, made playing conditions unsuitable but in the 58th minute, Vakatalesau got his side back into the game when he scored a brilliant goal to trail 2-1.
Hekari press forward to find an equaliser and won a corner kick which Muta failed to head home.
With the game slipping away, Amicale made changes to bring in Seimata Chilia and Nelson Bisili.
Gabina had made two good saves from Daudau and Masauvakalo strikes. Tuimasi Manuca was cautioned with a yellow card in the 70th minute.
Vakatalesau had the opportunity to level the score when the goal was at his mercy but he put over the crossbar.
Jack also got the yellow card before Vanuatu striker Masauvakalo hit home a trademark free kick to send the Vanuatu crowd into frenzy to lead 3-1.
In the 87th minute, Vaketalesau gave Vanuatu goalkeeper Ernest Bong no chance when he slammed a great shot to trail 3-2.
With five minutes of injury time, Samuel Kini went in for Fa’arodo and right on full time, Tiwa scored the equaliser with the last kick of the game.
In the other Group A match, Koloale kicked off the highscoring with a shock 6-1 win over 10-man Lautoka in Fiji.