Finals are on

By Henary Morabang

The business end of the season has arrived for Hekari United, CMSS Tigers, Gigira Laitepo Morobe and Esiloan University Inter who play the semi-finals of the Telikom National Soccer League in Port Moresby tomorrow.

In the first semi-final, Hekari play Esiloan University at 1pm while CMSS Tigers take on Gigira Laitepo Morobe in the main game at 3pm at the Lloyd Robson oval.

The clash of the day will be without doubt the first semi-final between last year’s semi-finalists university and defending champions Hekari Souths United.

University, considered by most soccer pundits to be the sleeping giants of the competition, do not have the import starts or the buying power of the more affluent Hekari but that has not stopped them from providing the three-time NSL champions with tough matches.

Interestingly, both teams have won one each in their normal competitions, and tomorrow’s match should see who the real champions are.

University are the only team to beat Hekari, a 1-0 win in the opening match, but lost 2-0 in the second round.

Hekari will rely on their international players to play a big role.

Coach Jerry Allan is going to rely on Solomon Islanders Alick Maemae, Joachim Waroi, Benjamin Mela and Fijians Pita Bolatoga and Tuimasi Manuca.

However, local player David and Cyril Muta, Koriak Upaiga, Kema Jack, Eric Komeng and Andrew Lepani are expected to step up.

Esiloan University will expect their senior players in skipper Hamson Daniel, Felix Bondaluk, Niel Hans and Ben Lakasa to lift their powerful Hekari.

Coach Robert Popat said his boys were looking forward to play Hekari.

They have treated the PNG champions with respect, and will give them a good run for their money at PRL oval.

Like Hekari, who want to play in the grand final, University will not let them stroll through but have to work for it, as the Waigani campus boys also want to play in the grand final.

Popat said he had instructed his boys to cut down on errors, especially against a team like Hekari who would capitalise on them and walk away with a victory.

In the second semi-finals CMSS Tigers have treated their fellow opponents, Gigira Laitepo Morobe, with respect but will not surrender easily.

Team manager Perry Agina said the boys had been training hard and were prepared to face the pride of Momase, Gigira Laitepo.

Agina said coach Max Forster would not announce the squad until this afternoon.

Foster is likely to read just his backline following the omission of skipper Goroba Tawa.

The skipper was rushed to the hospital last week for a suspected broken arm after the match against Uni Inter.

Others players who are likely to start for the team include crowd favourites Pascal, Wojen, Nigel Dabinyaba and Eliud Fugre.

The winner of the matches will advance to the grand final while the losers will fight out for the third and fourth placings.

The grand final winner will collected K60,000 plus Telikom Cup, while runners-up will walk away with a trophy and K25,000, third place finishers collect K15,000 and fourth place getter pick up K10,000.



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