The National, Monday 16th April 2012
By HENRY MORABANG
MRDC Hekari United won its sixth consecutive Telikom National Soccer League title easily disposing City Pharmacy Ltd Eastern Star 3-0 in the grand final at Lloyd Robson Oval in Port Moresby on Saturday.
In the third and fourth play-off, Besta PNG United edged out Tukoko University 3-2 in a penalty shoot-out after both team drew 2-2 in regular time.
The final between Hekari and Star did not live up to the anticipated intensity with the Milne Bay franchise chasing the ball the whole afternoon against a much disciplined and fitter Hekari outfit.
In the opening minutes of the first half, both teams were on equal terms trying to find their opposition’s net.
Hekari striker Maciu Dunadamu and Kema Jack threatened the Star defence from time to time.
Flankers Neil Hans and Wira Wama for Hekari offered good crosses for Dunadamu and Jack to score.
Hans coming in to replace Andrew Lepani entertained the 5,000 crowd with his bullet-like strikes and timely crosses.
Hekari scored in the 17th minute from a well-executed Hans corner.
The kick floated into the net and Eastern Star goalkeeper Peter Paul deflected the ball straight to an unmarked Taniela Waqa who tapped the ball in for the first point.
Star led by skipper Cyril Muta and Timothy Joe at the backline and midfielder Michael Foster and Roniel Igen struggled to set up their players.
Star striker David Taro and Felix Bondaluk were marked men by Hekari defenders Pita Bolaitoga, Waqa, Koriak Upaiga and Daniel Joe who gave them little room to move.
Ten minutes later, Jack in his usual fashion blasted at close range to extend Hekari’s lead to 2-0 going into half time.
In the second half, Stars came back strongly but Hekari were quick to close them off.
Three minutes into the second half, Wira Wama connected a good cross from Hans into the net to cushion their lead 3-0.
With the game slipping away from them, Star coach Joseph Ealadona substituted Joshua Niebo for Gary Moka but this made no difference.
Hekari captain Erick Komeng said after the game that he could not believe they had won their sixth consecutive title.
He commended his boys for giving their best on and ensuring they won the match.
Star coach Ealadona blamed his players for not sticking to the game plan.
“Credit to Hekari because they were the better side,” he added.
Hekari won the Telikom Cup along with K60,000 prize-money while Star settled for K25,000.
In third-place Besta picked up K15,000 and fourth placed Tukoko K10,000.
Besta captain Simon Emmanuel picked up Most Valuable Player of the year for the third consecutive season and K10,000 while Hekari’s Raymond Gunemba’s 10 goals this season won him the Golden Boot Award and K5,000.