PNG Soccer Champions, Hekari United, began their OFC Champions League campaign with a Three–one loss to Vanuatu champions, Tafea FC, on day one of the Oceania Football Confederation Champions League.
Played at Govind Park, Ba, Fiji, Hekari appeared nervous and conceded early, Vanuatu’s Top side, brushing aside its Pacific rivals.
Hekari were looking to make a strong start to their 2014 campaign, and made their intentions clear from the onset, with Nicolas Muri hitting Tafea keeper Seloni Iaruel, with the first shot of the game.
But tensions were high and Tafea, having had more time to settle, tried Hekari’s new look midfield of Scott Ganon and Erikson Komeng.
Koriak Upaiga was dispossessed deep in his half as Tafea continued to threaten, and from the ensuing cross, Tafea striker Dalong Damalip, beat defender Pita Bolatoga to head in the opener, although Hekaris Keeper Leslie Kalai, appeared to have had it covered.
20 minutes after the opener, Tafea were in again. A poor defensive clearance gifting midfielder, Joses Nawo a clear shot on goal.
Hekari fought back and a controversial handball, four minutes before halftime saw Tanito open his account in the Champions League. However Tafea continued to expose Hekari’s defensive frailties and eventually ran in a third.
Substitute Don Mansale, created time and space and punishing inside the box. The loss places Hekari in a difficult position, needing to win their remaining two matches against New Caledonians MS Magenta and home favourite Ba.
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