Hekari chase dream

Normal, Sports

The National, Wednesday 27th March, 2013

HEKARI United wants another shot at the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco in December.
And, the man behind Hekari’s success in recent years, Solomon Islands coach Jerry Allen believes his side can achieve that this year.
Allen’s men face Ba from Fiji at the Lloyd Robson Oval at 3pm on Saturday and he knows to have another crack at the Club World Cup, Hekari must finish in the top two in its pool to qualify for the cross-over semi-finals in the Oceania Football Confederation’s Champions League.
Hekari, the only non-New Zealand team from Oceania to make the Club World Cup finals, is pooled with Ba (Fiji), Amicale (Vanuatu) and Warriors (Solomon Islands) in Group A.
Group B has Mont Dore (New Caledonia), Auckland City (New Zealand), Waitakere United (New Zealand) and Dragon (Tahiti).

Unlike previous years, this year a semi-final stage will be played between the two highest-placed teams in each group.

The winner of Group A will face the second-placed team in Group B and vice versa.
The semi-finals will be played on a home-and-away basis.
Allen said his squad had been training very well despite minor injuries to key players like Eric Komeng.
Komeng, the flamboyant Kairuru Island winger, will be subject to fitness test before his availability is confirmed.
The major concern for Hekari players is the playing surface.
“We have been denied by PNGFA and NSL management to stage games at our home ground, Lloyd Robson Oval, to prepare for the O-League,” Allen said.
“Otherwise, the preparations have been exceptionally well.
“We are working on our passes and the finishing touches that almost cost us the game against FC Moresby over the weekend,” he said.
Allen said the bulk of the Hekari squad had O-League experience and that was a priceless advantage for the team.
“The boys know the pressure at this high level of football. It will be a team effort that will bring positive results.
“Playing against Ba will be a good match. They defeated Hekari 1-0 in Port Moresby but in the return match at Govind Park, we thrashed them 3-0. “It will be a tough call for the players as there will be two or three days break before the next O-League match.”
Allen is appealing to soccer followers to turn up in numbers to support Hekari as they will be playing for Papua New Guinea.
“We all must leave the NSL aside and now come as Papua New Guineans to support Hekari as they get another crack at the O-League championships tag,” he said.
Auckland City are the defending champions of the OFC Champions League after beating Tahiti’s Tefana in the final of the 2012 edition.
They represented Oceania at the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan, where they were ousted 1-0 by J League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
The tenth 2013 FIFA Club World Cup will be played from December 11-21 in Morocco.