Hekari claim fifth straight title

Former O-League champions Hekari United have retained their spot in Oceania's premier club competition by winning the Telikom National Soccer League in Papua New Guinea on the fifth successive occasion.

The Hekari United players celebrate their fifth consecutive title.

The Port Moresby-based outfit won the O-League in 2010 and will get another chance to have a crack at the title after defeating Eastern Stars 3-0 in the national league final to become Papua New Guinea champions yet again.

Goals from Fijian Taniela Waqa, Kema Jack and Wira Wama earned Hekari the win in straightforward manner and left captain Eric Komeng full of praise for his charges.

"I cannot believe we have won our fifth consecutive title," he said.

The play-off for third was a far more tense affair as Besta United and Tukoko University fought out a 2-2 draw before Besta finally triumphed 3-2 in a penalty shoot-out to claim bronze.

The opening moments of the final proved an even contest but Hekari strikers Maciu Dunadamu and Kema Jack did threaten the Stars defence and were provided with good service from wingers Neil Hans and Wama.

It was Hans who created the chance for Hekari's opening goal, swinging in a dangerous corner that Stars goalkeeper Peter Paul could only palm away for an umarked Waqa to tap into the net in the 17th minute.

The goal was enthusiastically greeted by the Hekari contingent among the 5,000-strong crowd and they had more to cheer just ten minutes later when local hero Jack blasted home from close range in trademark fashion to extend Hekari's lead to 2-0 going into the break.

Stars, driven on by skipper Cyril Muta and Timothy Joe at the back and midfield pair Michael Foster and Roniel Igens, came back strongly in the second half but Hekari held firm and gave themselves more of a cushion shortly after the interval when Wama converted another cross from Hans.

With the game slipping away as the clock ticked down, Stars coach Joseph Ealadona substituted Joshua Niebo for Gary Moka but his last throw of the dice did not have the desired effect as Hekari went on to confirm their five-peat.

Ealadona felt his men did not stick to the game plan he had set out for them but took nothing away from Hekari's remarkable achievement.

"Credit to Hekari because they were the better side," he said.

In the individual stakes, Besta captain and U-23 international Emmanuel Simon picked up the most valuable player of the year award for the third consecutive season while Hekari's Raymond Gunemba's 10 strikes earned him the Golden Boot.

For more on Papua New Guinea football go to www.pngfootball.com.pg

Updated On Tuesday, April 17, 2012