PORT MORESBY – Glamour Papua New Guinea club Hekari United FC has made it two-titles-in-a-row and thrown itself an OFC O-League chance after it defeated Gelle Hills 3-2 in the PNGFA NSL Telikom Cup Final at the weekend. Hekari’s victory meant a 54,000 kina payday for the club and a possible shot at the 2008/09 OFC O-League next season.
Hekari’s prolific goalscorer Kema Jack ended the season with a hat-trick to dent Gelle Hills’ hopes of continuing their dominance over their closest neighbours.
Gelle Hills, sniffing victory in the dying minutes, nearly pulled off a miracle comeback with Papua New Guinea U-23 international striker Tau Winnie scoring his second goal and substitute Harold Robinson missing one right in front of the goal mouth and sending the fans into dismay.
Robinson’s goal could have drawn the match at 3-all and sent the game into extra time however, his shot rocketed over the crossbar taking Gelle Hills NSL Telikom Cup hopes with it.
The match was one of Gelle Hills better performances against Hekari however despite the quality of the display this was Gelle Hills sixth straight loss from six meetings against their arch-rivals.
Kema Jack opened the scoring with a fine close range header from a corner kick which left Gelle Hills goalkeeper David Aua stunned as the ball flew past him into the net.
From there, Hekari continued to attack and maintaining possession for long spells but Gelle Hills sweeper Ila Ilaita Jnr managed his side’s defence to push Hekari away from increasing its lead.
Just before halftime Gelle Hills workaholic Tau Winnie found himself in the right spot to equalise with a header from a Steven Malis cross.
Winnie took the opportunity when Hekari’s right back Lawrence Moses committed himself for a counter play and failed to recover.
The deadly finish was typical of Winnie’s outstanding international form at the recent OFC Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in Fiji where Winnie finished amongst the top scorers with six goals.
In the second half Gelle Hills started strongly but they were matched by the Hekaris midfield led by Andrew Lepani.
And just as Gelle Hills were beginning to find their touch, the unexpected happened, allowing Hekari to go up 2-1.
Goalkeeper Aua fumbled a shot which went right through his gloves before Kema Jack pounced to give Hekari the lead finishing easily from close range with the embarrassed Aua left a despondent figure in the six yard box.
A few minutes later substitute Abraham Ench dribbled into the Gelle Hills six yards box, attracting several defenders and the goal keeper before slipping a pass through to Kema Jack to bag his hat-trick of goals and put Hekari up 3-1.
Gelle Hills coach made a double substitution sending on Desmond Waku and Harold Robinson to try and retrieve the situation.
This move nearly paid off when Robinson crossed the ball to the unmarked Winnie who scored his second goal.
Gelle Hills were back in business as Hekari struggled to hold onto its precious 3-2 lead.
But with mere seconds remaining Robinson made a hash of a gilt-edged chance that ultimately proved a decisive moment.
Hekari won K54,000 prize money, Gelle Hills K27,000, Morobe Kumuls K15,000, and Rapatona K10,000.
Kema Jack won the golden boot award for the second time with his 15 goals this season.
Tau Winnie missed out with his 13 goals.
The Papua New Guinea Football Association (PNGFA) National Soccer League (NSL) Telikom Cup Player of the Year Award was presented to Highlanders Ian Yanum and Ilait Jnr as joint winners.
In the other match Morobe Kumls beat Inspact Rapatona 3-1 to claim the third spot.