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Hekari thump Strikers to qualify for OFC Champions League

Updated: Apr 29

The Hekari United Football Club have secured a spot in the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Men’s Champions League after smashing the Port Moresby Strikers Football Club with a commanding 3-0 victory in their National Playoff challenge on Saturday, February 17th, 2024 at PNG Football Stadium in Port Moresby.

In the first leg of the national playoff challenge last week Saturday (February 10th), Hekari defeated the Strikers with a 2-0 win. The reigning champions (Hekari) of the 2023 Premier Soccer League (PSL) competition continued their winning streak on Saturday (February 17th) against the Strikers in the second leg of the national playoff challenge and qualified for the O-League, which will be hosted from May 15-28 in Tahiti, 2024.

As expected, the game started at a high intensity in the opening minutes. Both teams increased their pace of play, in terms of ball movement and passing skills. Through repeated attempts, Hekari got a penalty outside of the Strikers’ 10-meter yard. Midfielder, Yagi Yasasa, took a cheap penalty kick and the ball was headed by Ati Kepo, which bounced off the goal keeper and Karo Kila scored the loose ball to give his side a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute. The arm wrestle continued until the hooter sounded for the half-time break.

In the second spell, it was a one-way traffic contest, as the MRDC-sponsored outfit took things under control. Hekari kept the Strikers at bay and scored their second goal in the 70th minute through Solomon Rani, who received a sleek cross kick from Joseph Joe. With a huge amount of ball possession and field territory, the red-army netted their third goal through a free penalty kick from Joseph Joe in the added time to seal the deal.

Hekari United FC coach, David Muta, expressed satisfaction on his team’s performance and praised the players on their dominant victory.

“I was pleased with the boys’ performance, especially in the second half. The boys played according to what I wanted them to do. They executed really well in the second half by putting pressure on Strikers, working together as a unit, winning the ball possession, scoring goals and defending their line at the same time. I’m really happy with their performance,” Muta excitedly stated.

The David-Muta coached side still have a big task ahead of them. Coach Muta said they must work hard and prepare themselves well for the upcoming Champions League.

“For our team, it’s time now the players need to step up. OFC is the next level. It’s all about the mindset and for us, we have to prepare really well – physically with our fitness and everything. This is another level so the players need to step up. From now onwards, they need to change everything – their diet, discipline and their performance - during the training sessions,” he said.

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