Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

O-League: Hekari United create history for PNG football

Posted in Oceania Football by peterbein on May 2, 2010
Kema Jack

Kema Jack (left) is a football hero in Papua New Guinea after scoring three goals in the two-legged final against New Zealand champions Waitakere United

Football in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has been given a massive boost thanks to Hekari United’s 4-2 aggregate win over tournament favourites Waitakere United in the 2009-10 O-League final. Hekari United become the first club from outside Australia and New Zealand to claim the title and will become the first club from Papua New Guinea to play in the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi later this year. It is an astonishing feat for the club from Port Moresby and one which they’ll hope to take full advantage of both competitively and financially.

Hekari United won the first leg of the O-League final by three goals to nil a fortnight ago thanks to a brace from Kema Jack (pictured, left) and Solomon Islander Alick Maemae. After Waitakere United had sealed the New Zealand Football Championship last weekend the PNG side knew that they still had plenty of work to do over their more fancied opponents if they were to seal the title this Sunday.

Waitakere, who have won this competition twice before in 2007 and 2008, still harboured hopes of a fightback and these hopes were further confined after just three minutes when player-coach Neil Emblen got on the end of a Martin Bullock corner to give the New Zealanders an early second-leg, the aggregate arrears reduced to 3-1. Despite this early breakthrough the pivotal moment of the contest would come after the 35th minute of the match when Hekari United’s Alick Maemae was brought down in the box by Waitakere United goalkeeper Danny Robinson allowing Kema Jack to score his third goal of the final from the penalty spot. This gave Hekari United a 4-1 aggregate lead plus a crucial away goal meaning that the Auckland side needed to score four more without reply to win the trophy.

Sadly for Waitakere United their hopes of an O-League hat trick title had already significantly faded by the time they won a penalty kick of their own after 84 minutes. Brent Fisher converted from the spot to give Waitakere United a 2-1 win on the day but the aggregate score was 4-2 to the PNG side who held out against wave after wave of Waitakere United attacks throughout the second half. The final whistle went amid emotional scenes for the Papua New Guinea side who have now enjoyed success at the highest level of Oceania football since being established in 2003. They get the chance to play one level higher in the FIFA Club World Cup in December and the club will be dreaming of progressing far enough in the tournament to play either the European or South American champions. Nonetheless the financial guarantee of half a million American dollars for their participation in FIFA’s top club tournament will come as a welcome boost to the club who will use the money to further invest in the club’s future.

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