PNG Champions have drawn two all against New Caledonian side MS Magenta, in their OFC Champions League group C match in Fiji.
Reduced to ten men after the dismissal of Goal Keeper Leslie Kalai in the first half, Hekari had taken the lead twice and had looked on track for a memorable victory at Govind park.
Hekari faced MS Magenta with a number of changes; most notably were the inclusions of Kema Jack, Nigel Dabinyaba and also David Muta.
The impact was almost immediate as three minutes in, Dabinyaba crossed for defender-cum-striker, Pita Bolatoga, missed from four yards out.
Kema threatened from out wide as well, his cross good, but finding no follow up.
Magenta would resort to using long balls to counter, but slippery conditions made for poor ball control and striker Bertrand Kai was made to spend long periods without the ball.
Hekari were using a higher defensive line and looking to commit more players forward.
And Joachim Waroi exploited Magenta’s tentative defence, cuing up Tutizama Tanito.
Brian Kaltek almost gifted Kai and had to brign him down on the edge of the box. The follow up penalty, sailing over the bar.
Coach Jerry Allen reshuffled his line-up as a misfiring Bolatoga was sent back and Nicholas Muri brought on for Kaltek.
In a first half of little more than lost possession for both teams, the loss of Hekari keeper Leslie Kalai threw the game wide open.
In a one on one against Magenta’s Kai, he appeared to have hand-balled and the resulting red card placed Hekari under even more pressure.
Substitute Godfrey Banian stepped up in his place and carried the team into the half with a clean sheet.
Jerry Allen had asked his team for more bite and Hekari came out firing in the second half.
Nigel Dabinyaba paying back his coach in style with a 55th minute Header to give them the lead.
That goal changed the complexion of the match as it was now Magenta who had to fight back and they did just that.
Bertrand Kai getting his head on the end of a good cross to equalize.
Hekari hit the lead again as
But Magenta used their extra man to good effect and a tiring Hekari defence, had to withstand the constant barrage of attack.
Their wall finally collapsing late in the game as both Daniel Joe and Banian missed the ball.
While the two all draw was a much more favorable result for Hekari, it will be a huge ask taking on Ba, who are tournament favourites, and who are playing at home.
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