By HENRY MORABANG
THE victorious Hekari United FC yesterday returned home after their important 1-0 victory over Lautoka FC at Churchill Park in Fiji on Sunday.
Speaking to reporters upon arrival from Nadi en route to Honiara, Solomon Islands, coach Jerry Allen said his team would not rest on their laurels but would have to toil hard for the remaining match against Marist FC in three weeks time.
The victory has thrown the race in Group B wide open and will mean Hekari United must defeat Marist, the Solomon Islands champions, Marist FC.
Despite Marist being a sister club, Hekari will not underestimate and treat them lightly on their home soil.
“We know Solomon Islanders have passion for football and certainly will come out in numbers to barrack for Marist in the final match,” Allen, who is also a Solomon Islander, said.
He said the PNG champions must win the game or else they would surrender the lead to Lautoka or Tafea who play their final match in Port Villa.
Hekari are one win away from the US$1 million (K3 million) if they top the pool to meet the champions of pool A – Auckland City.
Team manageress Vonnie Kapi Natto said the boys could have scored more goals had the Fiji players not applied their brand of football – rough house tactics.
The rough tactics resulted in United’s key players, Joachim Waroi (ankle) and Henry Fara’odo (eye), becoming victims of such unsportmanship play.
She commended the international players for playing their hearts out for the PNG club.
Franchise owner John Kapi Natto echoed similar sentiments as his manageress wife that Hekari could have scored more goals.
Apart from Fara’odo’s goal, replacement striker Kema Jack had two golden chances but failed to find the target.
Mr Kapi Natto said Fara’odo’s display was class above the rest.
Despite five attempts to bring him down, the former Perth Glory striker kept his cool to score the classic goal that dented Lautoka’s chances for the O-League finals.
Fa’arodo, who played for Glory in the inaugural A League competition in 2005-06, struck in the 54th minute.
Fa’arodo was not the only import to shine, Fijian duo Pita Bolaitoga and Tuimasi Manuca also played a huge role in Hekari’s win.