Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek

Hekari United have confirmed their place in the semi-finals of the OFC Women’s Champions League in the Solomon Islands with an impressive 5-0 victory over Cook Islands’ Avatiu FC in wet conditions in Honiara.

The Papua New Guinea champions struck early through their excellent captain Marie Kaipu, who wrong footed Avatiu captain Susan Williams, cutting the ball onto her left foot and curling a wonderful effort from just inside the penalty area to open the scoring in the seventh minute.

Hekari continued to apply pressure to Avatiu’s defence, with Penina Katuke on hand to make a goal line clearance to deny Anashtasia Gunemba after she rounded Meripa Seumanutafa and had an empty net to aim for.

Gunemba and Kaipu then combined to secure Hekari’s second of the match. Kaipu this time the provider, crossing for Gunemba to double her team’s lead with a close range finish.

Less than a minute later, Maneu added her side’s third, chipping Seumanutafa from a tight angle to put the result beyond doubt for Hekari United with 45 minutes still to play.

Kaipu scored quickly in the second half, tapping in from close range in the 51st minute as the Avatiu defence failed to clear from the danger zone. She narrowly missed securing her hat-trick two minutes later, shooting wide after being released by Michaelyne Butubu.

With an eye on knockout football, Ericson Komeng began to cycle his wider squad into the game, first withdrawing goalscorer Gunemba and then replacing goalkeeper Fidelma Watpore with Zaire Kuyae for her first appearance of the tournament – although she had very little to do.

Regardless of personnel, his side maintained their intensity and industry, with Kaipu running the channels and marshalling her forward line.

She turned provider again in the 80th minute, chasing the ball down her favoured left wing and cutting back for substitute Hortance Kimit to bury past a stranded Kimberley Uini, who replaced had Seumanutafa in nets at half-time.

Kaipu had a final late chance to find her third but Uini denied the talismanic forward with a strong save as the minutes ticked down.

Secure in the result, Hekari were content to see the game out, maintaining possession and preventing Avatiu from mounting an attack for a consolation goal.

With today’s dominant performance, and having only conceded via a penalty so far in the tournament, last year’s runners up became the first team to confirm their place in the semi-finals, sending a warning to their opponents in the process.

Hekari United FC: 5 (Marie KAIPU 7’, 51’, Anashtasia GUNEMBA 43’, Christie MANEU 45’, Hortance KIMIT 80’)
Avatiu FC: 0

HT: 3-0