Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

A United Front – Hekari and Waitakere reach O-League final

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on March 28, 2010
Hekari United

Hekari United topped Group B and will play Waitakere United in the OFC Champions League final

The final matches in the OFC Champions League group stage have taken place this weekend and it has been a dramatic finish especially in Group A, where New Zealand rivals Waitakere United and Auckland City fought it out once again to see which of them would be contesting Oceania’s footballing showpiece. In Group B there was a three way chase for the one final place with the fixture list proving kind to Papua New Guinea side Hekari United who led the table going into Matchday 6 and were facing wooden spoonists Marist FC whilst the other two teams Lautoka FC and Tafea FC needed to win and hope that Hekari United dropped points.

However there would be no such problems for Hekari United who scored all of their four goals in a 4-1 win against Marist FC in the first half and never looked back. The home side Marist, from the Solomon Islands, could only stand and admire the attacks from their superior opponents for whom, ironically, two Solomon Islanders would be among the goals. Henry Fa’arodo and Alick Maemae (2) did their bit to ensure that their compatriots would end up rock bottom of the table having accumulated just one point in six games (a surprise 0-0 draw away at Vanuatu champions Tafea FC) whilst Fijian Pita Bolatoga was the other scorer for Hekari who topped Group B with 13 points from six games, just one ahead of Lautoka FC who won their final match away to Tafea 3-1. Goals from Samuela Vula, Jone Vone and Sailesh Samy secured three points for the Fijians in a match which will sadly be noted for an unsavoury pitch invasion minutes from the end forcing the referee to call a premature halt to the game.

On Sunday the latest installment in New Zealand’s equivalent of the ‘Old Firm’ derby took place with Auckland City, the defending O-League champions, needing to win at home to arch-rivals Waitakere United who only needed a draw to ensure qualification to the final. Things couldn’t have started any better for United who went ahead after just three minutes, Benjamin Totori slotting home from a tight angle past Auckland custodian Jacob Spoonley but it wouldn’t be long before the home side restored parity when Daniel Kiprivcic scored from the penalty spot after his team mate Jason Hayne had been brought down inside the box. In the second half Benjamin Totori would score his and Waitakere’s second goal of the game to make things more difficult for Auckland. Just before the hour mark Totori let fly from the edge of the penalty area and scored to give United a 2-1 lead meaning that Auckland needed to score two goals without further reply to reach the final. In the 70th minute Auckland equalized for the second time when Greg Uhlmann’s header made it 2-2 and the home side would have a numerical advantage just three minutes later when Waitakere United’s Jake Butler was sent off for a second bookable offence. But despite this advantage Auckland City’s attempts at finding a third goal would ultimately prove fruitless as Waitakere United held out to secure the point they needed to qualify for the O-League final. In the other Group A game on Matchday 6 New Caledonia’s AS Magenta thrashed French Polynesians AS Manu Ura 8-1 to secure third place in the table.

The two-legged O-League final will be played on April 17th and May 2nd, Waitakere United will play the first leg in their home stadium in Auckland whilst the second leg will be played in Hekari United’s home ground in Port Moresby.

GROUP A

1. Waitakere United 6 games/12 points/+9 goal difference

2. Auckland City 6/12/+8

3. AS Magenta 6/6/+3

4. AS Manu Ura 6/1/-20

GROUP B

1. Hekari United 6/13/+8

2. Lautoka FC 6/12/+6

3. Tafea FC 6/8/-3

4. Marist FC 6/1/-11

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