By HENRY MORABANG
PNG champion Hekari Souths United is on the verge of qualifying for the second stage of the O-League if they beat Solomon Islands’ Marist FC in the final match of the preliminary round in Honiara tomorrow.
Solomon Islands’ Lawson Tama Stadium has been a graveyard for visiting teams but Hekari has more at stake and will not falter at the final hurdle.
Hekari lead Group B in the O-League on 11 points heading into the final game while Lautoka of Fiji follow closely on 9. Vanuatu’s Tafea is on 8 points while Marist is last with 1 point.
If Hekari win on the weekend, they will go on to the O-League final, a home-and-away series against Group A winners, who at this stage, will be decided when New Zealand sides Waitakere and Auckland City clash on Sunday in Auckland.
But for the PNG team, loyalty from its group of foreign imports is not an issue for team owner John Kapi-Natto. After receiving assurances from its Solomon Island players Hekari Kapi-Natto is confident his recruits will give their best tomorrow.
Supposedly an issue last season for foreign players Kapi-Natto is banking on professionalism from his players to take their performance to another level.
Hekari should feature Solomon contingent Gideon Omokirio and Eddie Ngaitini while Henry Fara’odo and Joachim Waroi are sure to be a handful for Marist defenders on Saturday.
In the midfield, Stanley Waita and Alick Maemae will also feature prominently against their fellow wantoks with the assistance from PNG’s own David Muta and Samuel Kini.
Also supporting Omokirio and Ngaitini in the backline will be Fijians Pita Bolaitoga and Tuimasi Manuca who will back up strikers Waroi and Fara’odo.
Meanwhile, Marist has reaffirmed fans that they will regain their pride giving all their best when they take on Hekari United following their back-to-back good performances in the Honiara Football Association League in which Marist looked sharper and played impressivley.