HEKARI United recorded its fourth consecutive NSL title win crushing first time finalists Gigira Laitepo Morobe 5-0 in the Telikom NSL grand final on Saturday.
In the short four-year history of semi-professional soccer, the NSL grand final drew an estimated 10,000 soccer fans, several thousand fewer than those who witnessed Hekari’s historic 3-0 win over Waitakere in the first leg O-League final last weekend.
Still, it was a big turn-out to see the reigning champions assert their supremacy from the start of the final whistle.
Hekari, playing under the PRK Souths banner, met Gelle Hills in first two finals and last year against CMSS Tigers – all Port Moresby-based franchise – but on Saturday, it was the first time an out-of-town team, Gigira Laitepo Morobe FC had a chance to wrest the championship from the formidable red team.
But the NSL grand final debutants failed to keep the fire alive against a well-oiled Hekari outfit.
The opening 20 minutes saw an even contest with both teams giving little in the way of chances.
Gigira Laitepo midfielders Essau Nasa until replaced, Eliud Fugre, strikers Nathaniel Lepani and Pascal Wojen continuously threatened Hekari defence but could not find the target.
It was midway through the first half when Benjamin Mela found unmarked striker Kema Jack for Hekari’s first goal.
Minutes later, Jack scored his second goal in similar fashion after another Mela cross.
The second goal lifted Hekari’s tempo, which saw Alick Maemae score from the spot after Morobe’s goalkeeper Matherson Nasa brought down Hekari’s Fijian striker Tuimasi Manuca.
Hekari took a 3-0 lead into the break.
Morobe came out in the second half more purposeful but used up most of their efforts trying to contain Hekari’s raids.
Midway into the second half, Hekari finally broke through when midfielder David Muta got one to his name after continuous pressure while Mela put the final nail into the Morobe coffin when he snapped a close range effort to seal the match 5-0 for the team’s fourth NSL title.
Unfortunately, the crowd voiced its displeasure when Hekari’s big name signing Stanley Waita was the victim of an overzealous tackle by Morobe’s Armstrong Peka while Maemae retired unnoticed due to similar rough- house tactics employed by the opposition.
Hekari team management raised concerns afterward that Morobe did not compete in the spirit of the game and chose instead to cheapen the final with several instances of rough play. Franchise owner John Kapi Natto expressed his concern when Hekari’s key players had to leave early and did not complete the match because they have a very big game on hand this Saturday which is the second leg of the O-League final in Auckland.
In the minor placings, CMSS tigers proved that they still had plenty in the tank defeating Esiloan University 3-1.
Goals to midfielder Sowera Guti and an own-goal by Hamson Daniel in the opening half plus one from Raymond Gunemba was enough for Tigers to take third spot.
Uni’s Niel Hans slammed home a goal to ignite a fight back for University but the Gunemba’s effort put paid to that.
Defending champions Hekari collected K60,000 prize money with Morobe recieved K25,00 as the runners up and CMSS Tigers picked up K15,000 while Esiloan University walked away with K10,000.
Other awards winners were Besta United’s Emmanuel Simon ,who was named Player of the 2009-2010 NSL season while Kaparoko thunderbolt Kema Jack collected his third golden boot award on Saturday.