PNG's Hekari edge closer to history

Papua New Guinea’s Hekari United have taken a huge stride towards being crowned Oceania champions, and with it a ticket to the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2010, after a stunning 3-0 victory against New Zealand’s Waitakere United in the first leg of the OFC O-League final.

The win at PMRL Stadium in Port Moresby leaves the PNG side on the verge of breaking New Zealand’s domination of the tournament since the current format was introduced in 2007.

In hot and sunny conditions Kema Jack opened the scoring on the half-hour mark to give the home side a one goal half-time advantage. Both teams hit the frame of the goal in the first half with captain-coach Neil Emblen and Benjamin Totori doing so for the visitors, while Alick Maemae did likewise for Hekari.

The lead was doubled three minutes after the interval via the boot of Hekari’s Solomon Islander Maemae. PNG golden boy Jack then completed a double with 15 minutes remaining to send the 15,000-strong crowd into a frenzy and leave Emblen’s side facing a mammoth task if they are to claim their third continental crown.

Despite the lopsided scoreline, Waitakere have history on their side having won their previous crowns in 2007 and 2008 despite losing the first-leg in Honiara and Ba respectively. The second leg will be played at Fred Taylor Park in Auckland on 2 May with the winner to represent Oceania at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2010 in December.