The National, Tuesday 02nd April, 2013
By HENRY MORABANG
HEKARI United will need to improve greatly if they are to be competitive in the O’League after their 3-1 loss to Fiji’s Ba at the POMRL stadium in Port Moresby on Saturday.
Devastated team manageress Vonnye Kapi Natto did not mince words, saying her players needed to lift their performance in the remaining Oceania Champions League games.
“We have got a lot of work to do. Our strikers and wingers need to work extra hard if they want to beat Amicale FC in this week’s Saturday match at POMRL Stadium,” she said.
“Playing regular matches at PRL will provide the upper hand and advantages for Hekari players when hosting OFC Champions League matches,” she said.
Ba coach Yogendra Dutt said after the match Hekari was tough but his charges played well to win.
“The win is an advantage for the club on away matches and for the soccer-mad town of Ba and Fiji,” he said.
He is now focusing on the mid-week challenge against Solomon Warriors at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara.
The Fijian champions have joined Auckland City and Amicale in beginning the campaign with a win, while Waitakere United and Dragon fought out a scoreless stalemate.
Ba have the most reason to celebrate though after their three strikes in defeating Hekari put them at the top of the scoring chart.
The game was going scoreless towards half-time when former Hekari player Malakai Tiwai tapped Avinesh Swamy’s corner kick into the net to put the Men in Black in front.
In the second half, Hekari fought back through substitute Raymond Gunemba who set up striker Kema Jack to equalise in the 50th minute.
But the parity did not last long as Nigerian striker Sanni Issa picked up a Leslie Kalai fumble to pounce and make it 2-1 only moments later.
It stayed that way until deep into injury time when striker-cum-flanker Osea Vakatalesau beat the Hekari defence to set up Tuimasi Manuca to hit home his side’s third goal. Vakatalesau and Manuca were part of Hekari team to the 2010 FIFA Club World Club in Abu Dhabi.
The OFC Champions League returns tomorrow (Wednesday) with Solomon Warriors hosting Ba and Mont-Dore welcoming Dragons for the Franchophone derby on Friday. The other two matches will be on Saturday, with Hekari meeting Amicale at home and Auckland playing Waitakere.