HOSTS Hekari United FC are banking on a patriotic home crowd and the inclusion of three Fijian imports when they play Lautoka FC in the second match of Group B O-League pool fixture at Lloyd Robson Oval in Port Moresby tomorrow.
Hekari coach Tommy Mana, who had a coaching stint in Fiji’s semi-professional competition with Navua FC, said during the pre-match media conference that his side was prepared to give the visitors a torrid time in the humid conditions.
He said with the inclusion of Fijians in the Hekari camp in Lorima Dau (fullback), Pita Boleitoga (midfield) and Tuimaci Manuca (striker), he hoped to register their first win. He added that his coaching experience in Fijian top level soccer would also come in handy.
With due respect to Lautoka FC, Mana said his boys were fighting fit and ready to take Fiji’s best.
Last season Hekari registered a win and a loss to Fiji’s Ba FC in the O-League.
Hekari’s local stars in captain David Muta, Kema Jack and Benjamin Mela are also expected to have a say in tomorrow’s clash. Hekari fought hard for a 3-3 draw against Tafea FC in Port Vila, Vanuatu, in game one but could leap-frog Lautoka into first place with a win on tomorrow.
Lautoka will be full of confidence after a classy display in their debut O-League match beating Solomon Island’s Marist FC 3-1.
The Fijians will be eager to consolidate their lead with a follow-up away result.
Lautoka coach Imdad Ali predicted a tough match against Hekari especially at home.
“I suppose whenever a team travels overseas, they have to be prepared and that is the case with Lautoka FC. We are well prepared to face hosts Hekari.
“There will be a lot of pressure especially for on the team playing away from home but we have to tackle this pressure on Saturday,” he said.
Ali said he would use three overseas based players namely goalkeeper James Chronopoulis, Nahuel Arrarte (midfield) and New Zealand-based Fijian Salesh Kumar along side the local players.
The local Fijians who are likely to feature prominently in the match include Kamal Hassan, Jone Vono, Samuela Drudru, Samuela Kautoga and Keni Doidoi.