Photo Credit OFC Media via Phototek

Hekari United were desperately disappointed to fall just short of claiming the inaugural OFC Women’s Champions League title on home soil last year.

Eric Komeng’s side lost their tournament opener in Port Moresby 2-1 thanks to a 97th minute goal conceded against AS Academy Féminine. It was a decisive result in the round robin format and Hekari would go on to finish runner-up to the New Caledonia side.

The Port Moresby based side is again Papua New Guinea’s representative at the tournament, which has been expanded to eight teams for the second edition to be played in Honiara in the Solomon Islands from March 10-23.

“We are very motivated and from last years’ experience are looking forward for the tournament,” Komeng said.

Komeng has retained the bulk of the squad from last year. 11 players in the Hekari United side helped Papua New Guinea win the Pacific Games title in Honiara last December. Striker Marie Kaipu will again expected to be the main source of goals for her side, having won the Golden Boot award at last year’s tournament.

Hekari United FC’s Marie Kaipu scores the opening goal. OFC Women’s Champions League 2023, Hekari United FC v Labasa Women FC, Sir Hubert Murray Stadium, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Saturday 10th June 2023. Photo: Shane Wenzlick /

Komeng believes that experience will benefit his players, who will have a good understanding of the environment they are going into.

“Yes, we hope it will help all the players adapt to the conditions,” Komeng said.

Several of the squad also played at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament – Oceania Qualifier in Samoa last month, and although Papua New Guinea did not get out of the group stage, the three matches at least gave players some invaluable game time and experience.

The Papua New Guinea Women’s National League hasn’t started yet so having the players all match fit is a challenge for Komeng.

Hekari United are in Group A alongside Avatiu FC from the Cook Islands, host nation entry Henderson Eels FC and Vanuatu’s Tafea FC.

The top two teams from each group will advance to the semi-finals.