Toti City FC have claimed a third-straight National Soccer League title after beating U-23 PNG Academy side Besta PNG United 3-0 in the final at Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium in Lae on Saturday.
Toti coach Peter Gunemba was pleased with his side’s performance and also acknowledged the progress of their opponents, who were making their first final appearance.
“We’re happy to have won our third title,” an elated Gunemba said.
“For Besta, after nine years in the competition this was their first final and they showed they deserved to be here.
“They were competitive throughout and kept my players honest, especially in the first half. They are the future stars and they proved it today.
“The Besta boys have a long way to go but they have done well and I congratulate them and coach Harrison Kamake for bringing the team this far.”
It was a fairly even start to the encounter as both side’s hoped to feel out their opponent before applying any pressure.
However Besta had to rethink that strategy after Nigel Dabinyaba put the defending champions 1-0 up in the first ten minutes after meeting a cross and heading it past the goalkeeper for the match opener.
Dabinyaba’s goal for Toti spurred his team on and they heaped the pressure on their young opponents who stood up well against an experienced attacking force.
Besta captain Ernest Gwaitep and his teammates did well to keep the likes of PNG internationals Dabinyaba and Raymond Gunemba completely frustrated in the first half allowing them to take a just a one goal lead into the break.
However the sturdy defence couldn’t hold up forever as the hard-working Matthew David added a second for Toti, followed by one for captain Raymond Gunemba.
Gwaitep said despite the loss the mood in the Besta camp was positive and upbeat.
“We didn’t expect to make the final but we have made it through and we are thankful for all the support we got to come this far,” the Besta captain said.
“Playing against an experienced side like Toti was a big challenge but we were confident we could do well. Unfortunately we lost focus in the second half and paid for it.”
Toti captain Gunemba said the final score was a result of the team’s efforts all season.
“We all have faith in each other and were able to keep focused on the game plan.
As well as taking out the title, Toti also took home two individual awards with Gunemba collecting the Golden Boot and Emmanuel Simon the most valuable player of the season award.