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Pacific football rolling on

Raphael Le'ai, No 13, has been a key figure for the Henderson Eels this season. Photo Credit: SIFF Media

In the Solomon Islands, the Telekom S-League will return to action this week following a short break as the table-topping Henderson Eels look to carry on their early season dominance.

The Eels were the standout side during the first round of the competition, winning nine of their 10 matches with one loss as they gathered 27 competition points. They also piled on 52 goals and conceded only six.

Eels coach Eddie Marahare said he was impressed with the intensity his side had played with so far.

“I am proud of the team performance in our attacking play and finishing. We set ourselves a record of 52 goals in the first part of the league. The combination play in our team’s attacking system is understood by the players and seems to be working,” Marahare said.

“The striking duo of Raphael Le’ai and Joses Nawo was outstanding. However, I am also impressed by the way the whole team performed, including some new players just drafted into the team who are also improving as they showed consistency in the first part of the S-League.”

Marahare said the team was determined to win the S-League having finished second in the past two seasons.

“The important thing for us as a team now is to concentrate on our training, working very hard and performing consistently in our coming games.

“For the players, I‘ve always reminded them that they need to uphold our team values of discipline, hard work and teamwork, both in training and games.”

The Eels will resume their campaign next Thursday with a game against Isabel United, while the second-placed Laugu United will meet Real Kakamora on Monday.

In New Caledonia, reigning champions Hienghène Sport picked up their fourth Caledonia Cup following a hard-fought 3-1 win over SC Ne Drehu in Saturday’s final at Noumea’s Stade Numa-Daly Magenta.

2020 Caledonia Cup winners Hienghène Sport. Photo Credit: FCF Media via Alain Vartane

The 66th edition of the prestigious tournament kicked off in stiflingly hot conditions in the New Caledonian capital.

Playing in their first cup final, Drehu, from the island of Lifou, grabbed the lead through Mone Wamowe in the eighth minute.

Hienghène, the OFC Champions League 2019 winners, responded on the stroke of halftime courtesy of Wily Yentao.

With neither side able to break the deadlock in the second half, the title decider was forced into extra time, before two quick goals by Yvanoe Bamy settled the contest in favour of the defending champions.

In Fiji, Ba retained their Vodafone Women’s Inter-District Championship crown after beating Labasa 2-1 in Monday’s final at Suva’s ANZ Stadium.

Skipper Koleta Likuculacula led from the front scoring both goals for the victorious Women in Black.

2020 Vodafone Women’s IDC Golden Ball award winner Koleta Likuculacula. Photo Credit: Fiji FA Media

Following a high tempo start to the keenly-contested decider, Likuculacula put her side ahead courtesy of a neat finish from a cross sent in by Cema Nasau at the end of a swift counter-attacking move in the 19th minute.

Labasa came out with intent after the halftime break and got back on level terms in the 58th minute when Ba goalkeeper Adi Ateca Tuwai palmed the ball into her own net after failing to deal with a well-directed cross from midfielder Shayal Sindhika.

With the scores locked at 1-1 after 90 minutes the match was forced into extra time.

During the additional 30 minutes, both sides produced a number of chances before Likuculacula and Nasau combined once again to decide the outcome with a headed goal in the dying stages.

The Ba captain couldn’t hide her delight following her winner.

“First of all I would like to thank the man above for giving us strength to fight till the final whistle,” Likuculacula said.

“I thank all the players, coaches, officials and fans for their support, hard work and dedication which was the strength for us to defend the title.”

2020 Vodafone Women’s IDC Champions, Ba FC. Photo Credit: Fiji FA Media

Meanwhile, Labasa coach Arthur Simmons was gracious in defeat.

“Hats off to Ba for a deserved win and also to my players for playing their hearts out in the tournament,” Simmons said.

“Our aim was to win the title this year after failing last year but we cannot blame anyone but we will regroup from here and will come out more prepared for the Champion vs Champion series in December.”

Ba picked up FJD$4000 in prize money for their efforts while Labasa received FJD$1500.

New Zealand’s ISPS Handa Women’s Premiership began during the weekend with Canterbury United Pride beating Otago United 4-1, Auckland Football topped Central 9-1 and the Northern Lights and Capital drew 1-1; WaiBOP had the bye.

In Vanuatu, the men’s four-team National Super League got underway in Port Vila on Wednesday; the Malampa Revivors beat LL Echo FC 3-2, while Galaxy FC edged Ruerue FC 4-1.

The winners will meet in the grand final on Saturday, safe in the knowledge they have both earned a place in the OFC Champions League 2021.

Tupapa Maraerenga extended their lead in the Cook Islands Round Cup with a 1-0 win over Avatiu in Round 12 during the weekend.

The six-team league uses a triple round-robin format and is on the home stretch of the campaign with the winner earning a spot in the Qualifying Stage of next year’s OFC Champions League.

In Samoa, Lupe Ole Soaga SC continue to set the pace in the men’s national league, while there will be a seven-a-side tournament in Savai’i this Saturday.

In Tahiti, defending Ligue 1 champions AS Pirae remain undefeated after four matches and sit atop the standings in the early stages of the season.

Dragon are second with three wins and a draw, while AS Venus has won three from three after having an early-season bye to round out the top three.

The league continues this weekend with a full round of matches, including a meeting between Pirae and Venus.

Ends

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