The National, Monday 04th February, 2013
By HENRY MORABANG
REIGNING champions, Hekari United were pushed to the limit by newcomer FC Port Moresby before winning 2-0 in the Telikom National Soccer League at Sir John Guise Stadium on Saturday.
Sports Minister Justin Tkatchencko officially kicked off the match accompanied by music and fireworks in a gala opening to the season.
The game was hotly contested as both teams have many national representatives.
Hekari quickly established dominance when in the 10th minute flanker Nigel Dabinyaba put them in front.
FC Port Moresby regrouped and launched repeated raids into Hekari territory but former Central Coast player Kila Pokana teamed up well with veteran Koriak Upaiga, Daniel Joe and Fiji’s Pita Bolaitoga in the backline to defuse any scoring chances from their opponents.
FC Port Moresby captain and striker Reginald Davani, Alwin Komolong, Felix Bondaluk and former Hekari Neil Hans were kept under close watch by the Hekari defence.
Midfielders Michael Foster, Roniel Igens and Abel Ilaita were in control for FC Port Moresby, while Samuel Kini, Cliffton Aumae and Eric Komeng did the same for their team to ensure their forwards had chances to score.
Hekari had two clear chances in front of the goal but were foiled by good goalkeeping from Albert Mesulam, who kept the champions from registering a high scoring-match.
The reigning champion went to break 1-0.
At the resumption, FC Port Moresby players were told by coach Joe “Pepe” Montemurro to concentrate on their passes and make sure the ball found their target.
FC Port Moresby striker Bondaluk had two opportunities before being replaced.
Hekari coach Jerry Allan told his player at the break to lift their performance and not worry too much at the pressure they received.
Hekari scored their second goal from Aumae’s cross that Kema Jack easily tapped into the net.
FC Port Moresby introduced Max Sengum, Vanya Malagian and Harold Demo in the dying minutes but they came on later too late.
Allan attributed their victory to franchise owner John Kapi Natto and all the supporters who turned up on the night to support the Reds.
In the early game, Eastern Star FC stunned critics when they beat another newcomer NC Civil Works Oro FC 3-1.
Stars coach Max Foster said everyone left the team for greener pastures and he thanked the players who stuck with the team to realise their first victory.
Striker Danny Banaba opened the score sheet in the 33rd minute through a spot kick, while nomadic Tarawa chap from East Sepik, Emmanuel Popoitai equalised in the 52th minute before the under-rated Patrick Aisa scored a double in the 54th and the 59th minutes to cushion their lead and win the match.
At PNGFA Academy in Lae, host PNG Besta United thrashed visitors 3-1 Welgris Highlanders.
The Kimbe match between Gigira Laitepo Morobe FC and WNB Tavur did not eventuate because of bad weather in Kimbe.
Hekari 2 bt FC Port Moresby 0
Eastern Stars FC 3 bt Oro Fox 1
Besta 3 bt Welgris 1