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Strikers to play first OFC Qualifier

Updated: Apr 29


The Port Moresby Strikers Football Club will play their maiden Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Qualifier when they take on the 2023 Premier Soccer League Champions, the Hekari United Football Club from February 10-17, 2024. They will play two matches on the said dates and whichever team that wins the two games will qualify for the OFC Championship. 


Hekari lost one game only in the opening round of the 2023 season and bounced back into the winner’s circle, winning every match in the regular rounds and in the finals, eventually claiming the championship. A few teams put Hekari to task, but they used their experience and got the job done.


On the contrary, the Strikers made it into the finals last season, but bowed out in the preliminary final at the hands of the Lae City Dwellers. Despite not making it to the big dance, they have had a sterling 2023 season, finishing second on the ladder at the end of the regular season and third in the finals.


According to Papua New Guinea Football Association’s (PNGFA) constitution and by-laws, teams that finished first and second at the end of the regular season would automatically be eligible to participate in the OFC qualifier.


Since Hekari and Strikers finished first and second respectively on the ladder, they are qualified to battle each other out in February and the winner will secure a spot in the OFC qualification.


Strikers rookie coach, Martin Terry, who was appointed to the head coaching role in 2023, said although it would be his first time to lead the Strikers, he was prepared to face the challenge head-on.


“Yes, it is my first season in the Premier Soccer League and to get to where we are now and qualify for the OFC against Hekari United is something that everyone worked hard on last season,” coach Terry said.


“It’s a pretty good feeling when you achieve something beyond your expectation and to be able to achieve it in your rookie season is something I would be grateful about.


“But it’s not just about me, it’s everyone around the club that made it possible for us to qualify. And now, we need to prove that we are capable of going all the way.”


More so, he emphasised that to go up against a quality side like Hekari, the Strikers need good preparations and strategic planning to give them a good match-up.


“It is important to get all the details right with players, training, and getting them not just physically but psychologically in the present moment,” he said.


“It’s easy to lose the game when you play it in your head. Self—preparation is the key and all the players must be consistently doing it.”


He added that Hekari had talented players all across the board, so they needed to work with all the players they had at their disposal to bring a competitive game against the reigning champions.


“Our main focus is not just one player, but we know our players and the qualities they possess that they can bring on match day,” Terry stressed.


“We have always emphasised teamwork and how to get them to work and produce results as a team.”


Given Hekari’s experience and championship credentials, they will be the favorites to defeat the Strikers easily, but coach Terry and his team are unfazed.


“I think anyone can beat anybody or any team, if prepared well. I mean, we know Hekari United has been a champion team for many years and they will not let this game go easily,” Martin said.


“But for us, we know what it takes to win a match and if we get it right, we will be up there to compete when the moment comes.”


Coach Martin Terry reiterated that to face the star-studded Hekari outfit would be tough, but he and the Strikers looked forward to it.


“We are looking forward to the challenge, as it is something we have worked hard on during the 2023 PSL season and it was our goal to get to this moment and so, we will do everything to prepare well and to get the result we wanted,” he stated.


“We know we didn’t do well in the finals, especially against the Lae City Dwellers FC, though we started the match well.


“Well, it is another opportunity to set things right so we have everything to fight for and hope that a little bit of luck will be on our side.


“First match is important, as it will set the tone for the next one."



Photo Credit: PNG FA

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