Hekari crash out of Oceania tourney

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The National, Monday April 18th, 2016

 HEKARI crashed out of this year’s OFC Champions League race after going down to Team Wellington 4-0 in their final Group B match on Saturday in Auckland, New Zealand.

Hekari was banking on the Samoans to beat Tahiti’s Tefani but instead the Tahitians turned the tables 7-0 to have better a goal average and advance into the semifinals.

Coach Jerry Allen could not hide his disappointment after the match.

“Yeah that was a really tough game for us. We knew that they were a strong, well-disciplined team,” Allen said after the game.

“We started very well in the first 10 minutes but our crosses let us down. We didn’t play our usual style of football. We weren’t doing well. They scored early and that wasn’t good for us.”

Wellington coach Matt Calcott was pleased with his side’s performance in qualifying for the semis for the second year in a row.

“We’re delighted. Obviously it came down to the last game of the group and it was a real special performance from our players today. We can go away and rest and recover and look forward to Wednesday.”

The victory over the 2010 OFC champions  have set up Team Wellington a semi-final meeting with AS Magenta from New Caledonia. 

Finalists in last year, Team Wellington have once again progressed with the maximum nine points, while Hekari’s campaign is over despite two impressive victories from their three matches.

Elsewhere, Suva FA finished their tournament on a high after beating New Caledonian club AS Lössi 3-1 to avoid the wooden spoon in Group B.

Both Team Wellington and Hekari United came into the day’s final match with a six points from two matches but Hekari sat in the box seat courtesy of superior goal difference.

Although a draw would have been enough for the Papua New Guinea team to progress to the final four, Jerry Allen’s men started the match without intent.

They had the better of the early exchanges, with the dangerous Tommy Semmy and Wira Wama threatening. But Team Wellington weathered the storm before asserting their dominance from the 15th minute mark.

Captain Bill Robertson sent the Kiwi side ahead when he rifled a Tom Jackson cross into the top right corner in the 21st minute.

Robertson grabbed his second 16 minutes later with a looping header to give his side a 2-0 lead at the break.

Hekari struggled to deal with Team Wellington’s set pieces and aerial presence throughout the match and that was evident when 10 minutes after the break an excellent corner from Leonardo Villa was turned into the net by Tom Jackson.    

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