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Football action heats up across Oceania

Lae City on the charge to a national league crown. Photo Credit: PNGFA Media

National leagues across the Pacific continue to take shape, while the champions have been crowned in Papua New Guinea.

Last weekend marked the opening round of Ligue 1 in Tahiti with defending champions Pirae defeating Mataiea 7-2, while fellow heavyweights Venus beat Arue 5-0.

In other matches, Tefana edged Central 1-0, Tiare toppled Excelsior 3-0 and Dragon hammered the Young Tahitians 5-0. The fixture between Manu-Ura and Olympic Mahina was postponed; Pueu had the bye.

Thirteen teams will compete in this season’s edition of the competition.

In the Solomon Islands, the Henderson Eels have made an impressive start to the Telekom S-League.

The competition, which features a double-round robin format, expanded to 11 teams this season and the Eels have been a force to be reckoned with, winning eight of their nine matches so far, scoring 48 goals and conceding only six.

Henderson will play Real Kakamora on Wednesday night before having a bye this weekend. Laugu United, who are in second place, will meet the bottom-placed Mailata Kingz this week.

Defending champions the Solomon Warriors are sitting third and will face Honiara City next Wednesday to mark the conclusion of the first round; the competition will then go on a two-week break before the second round gets underway.

The inaugural eight-team Solrais Women’s Premier League is in full swing in the Solomons with the RSIP Royals unbeaten through eight games, while Koloale are second on the table with seven wins from eight matches.

In the recent Just Play U-14 National Development Championship, Western Tomoko won the female division and the Honiara Thunder claimed the boy’s title.

In Samoa, defending champions Lupe ole Soaga are unbeaten through nine rounds in the 12-team men’s national league, while Maotaa FC are leading the 13-strong women’s competition.

In the Cook Islands, Tupapa Maraerenga have made a promising start to their title defence with six wins from eight games. The six-team league is contested across a triple round-robin format.

The 2020 Tonga Major League has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic but a Challenge Cup is being played featuring men’s, women’s and youth divisions.

In Vanuatu, the Top Four Super League in Port Vila is about to get underway with a spot in next year’s OFC Champions League on the line.

New Zealand Football have released their draws for their upcoming men’s and women’s national leagues and their men’s futsal competition. More information can be found here.

Meanwhile, in Papua New Guinea, Lae City FC have defended their crown after securing their sixth-consecutive title with a 1-0 win over Vitiaz United FC in the final of the 2019-2020 Kumul Petroleum National Soccer League at Port Moresby’s PNG Football Stadium on Saturday night.

Striker Obert Bika delivered the decisive blow by scoring the game’s only goal in the second half to grab victory for his side.

Bika, who played a leading role up front, took the opportunity when Vitiaz goalkeeper Russel Chris fumbled a shot from Abdias Aguirre.

Lae City celebrate another national league title. Photo Credit: PNGFA Media

Delighted Lae City coach Bob Morris heaped praise on his players.

“I am speechless and proud of the boys for coming out and doing what we asked them to do. The boys really stood up in every game and we didn’t have the expected start but are glad to be the last team standing,” Morris said.

“The atmosphere was electrifying with the support of the fans from the stands was amazing,”

Vitiaz captain Eliud Fugre said both sides played well and had their chances but admitted Lae City were deserved winners.

Apart from the premiership trophy, Lae City FC also walked away with K100,000 prize money, while runners-up Vitiaz United took home K50,000, Hekari United bagged K30,000 for finishing third and the fourth-placed Gulf Komara collected K20,000.

Lae City skipper Emmanuel Simon scooped the Most Valuable Player Award for his dominant midfield performance while the competition’s Golden Boot Award was given to Vitiaz United FC striker Jonathan Allen for his haul of twelve goals this season.

In Fiji, the victorious Labasa football players will share FJD$25,000 prize money after defending their Courts Inter-District Championship crown with a 2-1 win against Lautoka in the competition’s title decider at the ANZ Stadium in Suva on Sunday.

Labasa with their trophy and winner’s medals. Photo Credit: Fiji FA Media

The Babasiga Lions entered the grand final as favourites with thousands of their fans on hand cheering them on.

However, the vocal Labasa supporters were were stunned in the 51st minute when referee Veer Singh awarded a penalty to Lautoka after goalkeeper Akuila Mataisuva fouled Dave Radrigai inside the penalty box.

Captain Zibraaz Sahib calmly slotted home from the spot to put the Blues up 1-0.

Labasa were back on level terms in the 68th minute when Taniela Waqa’s free kick was fumbled by goalkeeper Viliame Tabucala allowing   Ilisoni Loloivalu to tap-in for the equaliser.

Ten minutes later, nippy marksman Ratu Apenisa Anare emerged as the hero for Labasa after heading in the winner from a corner by Ashnil Raju.

Victorious Labasa coach Ronil Lal singled out veteran midfielder Taniela Waqa after the match.

“I dedicate this win to Taniela because he is the most committed and disciplined player I have ever coached. This is probably his last IDC with Labasa. He has been a loyal servant for Labasa and over the years he has featured very strongly in our tournament wins,” Lal said.

Lautoka received FJD$6000 for reaching the final while the two losing semi-finalists Ba and Rewa were both awarded FJD$1000.

In New Caledonia, Super Futsal League leaders ASPTT Noumea have tightened their grip on the competition with back-to-back victories on the weekend.

The 2019 OFC Futsal Champions League runners-up brushed aside Zeolyl 13-2 on Saturday before thrashing NE Drehu 14-2 the next day on the island of Lifou.

Meanwhile, second-placed FC Ferrand made light work of Olympique Futsal, who sit in third position, thanks to a surprise 6-2 win on Match Day 15 of the competition.

Ends

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