Reds into semis

Normal, Sports

The National, Wednesday April 13th, 2016


 HEKARI United guaranteed their place in the OFC Champions League semifinals with a convincing 3-0 win over Suva in Auckland, New Zealand, yesterday.

The win not only secured the Papua New Guinea powerhouse a spot in the second stage of the tournament but saw them top Group B, ahead of New Zealand side Team Wellington, who managed a 2-1 win over New Caledonia’s AS Lossi on the same day.

A determined Reds outfit out-muscled the Fiji champions on day five of the Oceania Football Confederation tournament’s Group B fixture at QBE Stadium.

Hekari franchise owner John Kapi Natto said from Auckland that he was happy with the performance of his side.

“We came with the aim to advance into the semifinals, and we did that with a two-goal margin,” Kapi Natto said.

Coach Jerry Allen was satisfied with his side’s dismantling of Suva, with two thirds of the job done in the group stage.

“I was really happy today but we have Wellington up next and it won’t be easy,” Allen said.

“We wanted to use the same game plan as in the first game – making sure not to play long balls because that’s where Suva were supposed to be good. We shut them down and moved the ball quickly, as well as taking our chances.”

Allen knows Wellington will be a tough nut to crack. 

It will be second time Wellington and Hekari have been pooled in the same group so there is a familiarity.

Suva coach Gurjit Singh felt his charges were nowhere near their best.

“It wasn’t really a good performance,” Singh said. “We made a lot of mistakes. 

“They (Hekari) have a good set of boys, some very technical players and the credit has to go to them.”