By HENRY MORABANG
REIGNING champions Hekari United will take on Gigira Laitepo Morobe in the Telikom National Soccer League grand final at Port Moresby’s Lloyd Robson Oval tomorrow.
In what is to be a “David vs Goliath” soccer clash, casual fans and die-hard supporters are expected to flock to Lloyd Robson tomorrow to see for the first time a Morobe team taking on a Port Moresby franchise in the NSL.
Hekari beat University 7-1 in the semi-finals to book the first final berth while Morobe edged out CMSS Tigers 1-0 in the dying minutes of their match to earn a shot at grabbing the NSL champions.
Hekari are undeniably in a rich vein of form at the moment coming off a convincing 3-0 win over New Zealand champions Waitakere last weekend and a seven-goal pummelling of a hapless Uni Inter FC the week before.
The Morobeans carry the mantle as distinct underdogs into the fourth NSL grand final.
NSL chairman John Kapi Natto congratulated all the four teams for making the finals.
Since the competition started three years ago, the competition has gone from strength to strength.
Kapi Natto thanked all the franchises who have stuck together through thick and thin to get the competition up and running.
He commended Libe Parandali for taking charge of Gigira Laitepo since the establishment of the NSL and finally making it through to its first final.
“Gigira Laitepo Morobe has made it as far as the semi-finals in the last two seasons but managed to get through this time,” he said.
In other NSL news, three franchises Mendi Souths (Southern Highlands), Morobe United (Lae) and Gulf (Gulf) teams are already putting forward their case for inclusion the next season.
Kapi Natto said it should be an interesting final this weekend.
He urged all football fans to support their clubs in the true spirit of the game.
The chairman also reminded fans to keep “the fire burning” as Hekari were representing the country and any rowdy behaviour from fans would tarnish our good name overseas.
The defending champions will be without their two Solomon Islands big guns in Henry Fa’arodo and Gideon Omokirio while other fellow Solomon Islanders Stanley Waita, Alick Maemae, Benjamin Mela will carry on the pride of Solomon Islands in the team.
Also pulling the red jersy will be the two Fijian representative players Tuimasi Manuca and Pita Bolatoga. The local players in David Muta, Cyril Muta, Andrew Lepani, Koriak Upaiga, Erickson Komeng and Kema Jack will need to back up after last week’s superb O-League effort against Waitakere.
Meanwhile Morobe FC team manager Stanley Khanna is confident his charges can give Hekari a competitive game despite the general opinion that the match is a formality for the O-League finalists.
He will not announce his team until final training session this afternoon in Port Moresby.
Interestingly, there will a “family versus family” scenario in the final with Hekari’s Andrew Lepani set to face younger sibling and Morobe striker Nathaniel while Hekari winger Michael Foster will be up against dad, Max Foster, who is the coach of Morobe.
Khana is counting on his unsung heroes Kohu Liam, Elliuda Fugre, Goroba Tawa and Pascal Wojen to rise to the occassion and cause a massive upset.
That would be perhaps the biggest boilover in PNG domestic soccer history with Hekari currently in virtually unbeatable form and boasting a star line up of PNG’s and the Pacific’s best footballers.
In the third place play-off, CMSS Tigers take on Esiloan University.