LOWLY-rated University Inter FC upset competition leaders and O-League regulars Hekari United 1-0 in the Telikom National Soccer League wash-out match played at Port Moresby Rugby Football League stadium yesterday.
Striker Tau Winnie may have scored the goal but the hero of the side was former Hekari United goalkeeper Leslie Kalai, who put on a five-star performance to thwart the opposition with a clean pair of hands.
Kalai, who was one of the founding members Hekari until two years ago, displayed his experience as a tough custodian at the goalmouth denying the Reds from finding the back of the net.
It was all celebration time for the University camp with club heavies in Ben Kaiah, John Davani and president Kepas Wali offering their congratulations to coach Robert Popat and his players.
The game started off on the fast pace with Hekari United attempting to run ragged the University defence with a high tempo game.
However, coach Popat urged his players to keep their cool and play at their own pace.
In one of such moves, veteran Ben Lakasa found unmarked Winnie, who blasted for the only goal of the match.
It was the best game University Inter ever played since the start of the five weeks ago, Popat said.
Led by skipper Trevor Ire, Richard Pono and Kelly Japu in the backline, Desmond Sow, Roniel Igens, Eric Willie and Clement Peka in the midfield while Winnie and Lakasa in the front line, University seemed to control the match’s ebb and flow.
University added a bit of aggression in defence which really unsettled the Hekari offensive game pattern which resulted in uncharacteristic errors.
Hekari fielded a star-studded side including new recruit in Solomon Islander Richard Mama who was replaced in the second half.
The defending premiers had several opportunities to win the match but they fail to find the net.
Kema Jack, normally a good finisher, was wasted on the flank while strikers Joachim Waroi and Tuimasi Manuca were firing blanks throughout the afternoon.
In the other matches, Eastern Star franchise owner Joseph Eleadona was a happy man when his boys held a red hot CMSS Tigers outfit to a 2-2 draw.
He said against a team like the Tigers, he was pleased with the results. The game could have gone either way, if strikers from both sides grabbed their chances.
Stars wasted no time and 10 minutes into the game, striker Andy Barnabas scored the opening goal.
Tigers returned with renewed vigour after the break when flanker Ian Yanum sent a volley which beat the defenders and goalkeeper Richard Lapan to the net.
The Stars regained the lead with fullback Timothy Joe connecting a good cross from skipper Adrian Komu.
Komu again almost extend the lead only to find the post in his way to save the Tigers.
Before full time, replacement Bruce Kusunan slammed a low ball from Ken Gule to level the score 2-2 until time.