The National – Monday, April 4, 2011
By HENRY MORABANG
REIGNING champions MRDC Hekari United won a record fifth consecutive National Soccer League title after crushing Eastern Star 4-0 in the final at Lloyd Robson Oval on Saturday.
A young Hekari outfit, led by David Muta, made their opponents, Star, look ordinary to win the Telikom Cup and K60,000 in prize money.
The final was expected to be a close affair but a 10-man Star could not keep out Hekari in the second half leaking four goals.
It was an even contest until an elbowing incident midway through the first half.
Star’s Fabian Bagi was red-carded after a collision left Hekari defender Andrew Lepani unconscious.
Hekari used their numerical advantage to outflank a rattled Star and pressed home.
To Star’s credit, they controlled the opening 20 minutes of the match but suffered a noticeable dip in confidence after the ejection of Bagi.
Star’s striker Raymond Gunemba also struggled to find his footing coming back from a three-week lay off.
Both teams were tied 0-0 at half time.
In the second half, Hekari looked the more assured side and were not going to waste their numerical advantage.
With the unforgiving Port Moresby climate, the heavens opened up to make the going heavy.
Winger Ian Yanum capitalise on that sending a cross which goalkeeper Richard Lapan failed to glove for the opening goal.
Yanum’s goal was thecatalyst that shifted Hekari into championship mode.
Fijian Malaki Tiwa, playing his first grand final, got his name on the scoresheet when he blasted one from the edge of the box for the second goal.
Tiwa scored his second from a penalty when Cyril Muta brought down Yanum.
Soon after, with the score at 3-0, Hekari’s Wira Wama set up Yanum for his double for an unassailable 4-0 lead.
The injection of Star subs Nathaniel Lepani and Junior Sato in thelast 15 minutes did little to change the momentum.
The third place play-off between Besta United and Tukoko did not eventuate due to Air Niugini flight disruptions out of Lae but officials are yet to confirm if the match will take place.