By HENRY MORABANG
WITH the final matches of round one of the Telikom Cup National Soccer League challenge this weekend, respective franchises should seriously review the performances of their respective teams.
CMSS Tigers and reigning champions Hekari Souths United are strong contenders for the 2009-2010 premiership title if their performance last Saturday was any indication.
Tigers, who are the current competition pace-setters because of their good attacking football, really need to improve their defence.
Hekari forced the equaliser thanks to sloppy defence by the Tigers to level the scores 1-1.
If the side backed by CMSS are keen to remain strong finals contenders, coaches Joo-wan Jung and his assistant Selan Elizah, could do worse than make several changes in the backline.
Veteran Nathan Vincent has slowed down considerably while flanker Kavoi Mante needs to be on his toes and Misty Andrew is rusty despite playing for several franchises.
Tigers have a solid midfield in skipper Ken Gule, Sowera Guti and Ian Yanum, who can provide attacking options for their strikers Raymond Gunemba, who is peaking nicely, and Garry Moka.
Hekari’s workrate in attack and defence, is excellent and they have a very impressive defensive record, with only five goals scored against them.
They should be there when grand final day comes.
Meanwhile if Gelle Hills maintain their current form, they will be the team to watch along with Gigira Laitepo Morobe FC. A surprise packet in April could be the fast-improving Tukoko University Lae but only time will tell if the entusiasm and energy Tukoko bring can last all the way to the finals.
Tigers who are current leaders in the competition need to lift their defence to stay competitive and maintain their position and that also applies to Gelle Hills and Gigira Laitepo Morobe FC.
The great improver in NSL is newcomer Niugini Builders Tukoko University Lae FC who sit on fifth spot ahead of Esiloan University, Eastern Stars, Besta PNG United and Niupetro Fox.
Eastern Stars, Besta PNG and Niupetro Fox must improve defensively to avoid being relegated or dropped out of the competition as NSL board is likely to stick to eight teams next year.
The current points ladder after last Saturday’s matches has CMSS Tigers on 15 points followed by Hekari United and Gelle Hills on 13 points, Gigira Laitepo Morobe 12, Tukoko University Lae 7, Esiloan University Inter 7, Eastern Stars 5, Besta PNG United 2 and Niupetro Fox 1.
Eastern Stars and Tukoko University still have an outstanding match to play.
The wash-out matches are scheduled for next Tuesday in Madang and Lae respectively.
Eastern Star will fly to Madang to challenge Niupetro Fox at Laiwaden Oval while in Lae, Best PNG United will take on Tukoko Unitech Lae.
Meanwhile, this weekend will see double header being played in Lae when Besta PNG United play neigbhours Gigira Morobe FC while Tukoko University Lae hosts reigning champions Hekari United.
In Madang, Niupetro Fox meets Esiloan University and in Port Moresby, CMSS Tigers take on Gelle Hills.