By HENRY MORABANG
THE business end of the season has arrived for Hekari United, CMSS Tigers, Gigira Laitepo Morobe and Esiloan University Inter who play the semi-finals of the Telikom National Soccer League in Port Moresby tomorrow.
In the first semi-final, Hekari play Esiloan University at 1pm while CMSS Tigers take on Gigira Laitepo Morobe in the main game at 3pm at the Lloyd Robson Oval.
The clash of the day will be without doubt the first semi-final between last year’s semi-finalists university and defending champions Hekari Souths United.
University, considered by most soccer pundits to be the sleeping giants of the competition, do not have the import stars or the buying power of the more affluent Hekari but that has not stopped them from providing the three-time NSL champions with tough matches.
Interestingly, both teams have won one each in their normal competition, and tomorrow’s match should see who the real champions are.
University are the only team to beat Hekari, a 1-0 win in the opening match, but lost 2-0 in the second round.
Hekari will rely on their international players to a play big role.
Coach Jerry Allan is going to rely on Solomon Islanders Alick Maemae, Joachim Waroi, Benjamin Mela and Fijians Pita Bolatoga and Tuimasi Manuca.
However, local players David and Cyril Muta, Koriak Upaiga, Kema Jack, Eric Komeng and Andrew Lepani are expected to step up. Esiloan University will expect its senior players in skipper Hamson Daniel, Felix Bondaluk, Niel Hans and Ben Lakasa to lift their performance against a powerful Hekari.
Coach Robert Popat said his boys are looking forward to play Hekari. They have treated the PNG champion with respect, and will give them a good run for their money at PRL oval.
Like Hekari who want to play in the grand final, University will not let them stroll through but have to work for it, as the Waigani campus boys are also want to play in the grand final.
Popat said he has instructed his boys to cut down on errors especially against a team like Hekari who should capitalize on that to walk away with victory.
In the second semi finals, CMSS Tigers have treated their fellow opponent, Gigira Laitepo Morobe with respect but will not surrender easily to them.
Team manager Perry Agina said they boys have been training hard and are prepare to face the pride of Momase, Gigira Laitepo.
Agina said coach will not announce the squad until after Friday afternoon
Morobe coach is likely to readjust his backline following the omission of skipper Goroba Tawa. Skipper was rushed to the hospital last week for a suspected broken arm against Esiloan University last weekend.
Other players who are likely to star for the team include crowd favourite Pascal Wojen, Nigel Dabinyaba and Eliud Fugre.
The winner of the matches will advance to the grand final while the losers will fight out for the third and fourth placing.
The grand final winner will collect K60,000 plus Telikom Cup, while runner-up will walk away with small trophy and K25,000, third place collects K15,000 and fourth place getter pick up K10,000.