Good performances of Raphael Lea’i in his first friendly matches after signing for Velež Mostar

The Solomon Islands superstar Raphael Lea’i is enjoying his first minutes as a pro-player; his new club FK Velež Mostar from Bosnia and Herzegovina is now on a camp in Antalya, Turkey. The striker arrived late in the camp, but already took part in two friendly matches of the club – against Lithuanian national champions FK Žalgiris and Romanian side CS Minaur BM.

The Solomon Islands entered in the second half of the match against FK Žalgiris and played an important role: “Raphael Lea’i also played an important role in that winning action. He ran into the space, kept the ball, played a pass and in the following action scored a goal“, reported Sun Sports – “He is always in some good-looking position that smells of a good opportunity and a goal. Its fast, penetrating, and inconvenient to keep” it was added about his first game against the Lithuanian champions that ended up in a 1-0 win in favour of FK Velež Mostar. You can watch the highlights of this match by clicking here.

Raphael Lea’i – FK Velež Mostar Media

Against the Romanians of CS Minaur BM, Lea’i played the entire match and always a threat to the defensive system of the opponent team, mainly player as winger for his new club outfit. “Raphael Ohanua Lea’i (player from the Solomon Islands) also plays in the Mostar attack, a celebrity on his island, who arrived in Turkey only 3 days ago, because only then did the Bosnians solve his visa“, said Romanian media about Rapha‘s participation in the match. You also can watch the higlights of this match by clicking here.

Lea’i and his club still have one more match to be played in Turkey before returning to Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina: they will be playing Ukranian top-tier side FK Minaj. The first official duty of the club this year will be against HŠK Posušje for the Bosnia and Herzegovina Football Cup, competition that Velež Mostar is the current title holder.

Roy Krishna scores winner against his former club as Bengaluru continues impressive run

Roy Krishna‘s Bengaluru FC entered the top-six after an impressive win over ATK Mohun Bagan this Sunday (05th Feb); Krishna scored what proved to be the winner goal for his side. The Fijian striker returned to Kolkata, but this time to haunt his former club and give important three points for his new club.

Roy Krishna was failing to impress in his new club; but since then the former Wellington Phoenix man ended a 10-goal drought and was directly involved in four goals in the last four games for his team – scoring three and assisting once. Last weekend against Mohun Bagan nothing was different for Krishna: the striker took his opportunites and scored after a goalkeeper’s fumble at the 91th minute. You can watch the goal by clicking here.

Roy Krishna – Focus Sports

At that moment, Bengaluru was already winning by 1-0 the match thanks to a goal scored by the Spanish midfielder Javi Hernandez. The Australian attacker Dmitri Petratos still managed to pull one back for Mohun Bagan, but this was too late for a comeback.

The Bangalore-based side collected their fifth consecutive win after a very poor stint of results in the Indian Super League; now the team coached by Simon Grayson is ranked 6th in the process, inside the playoff qualification-zone for the post-season in the most important Indian football league.

David Browne’s contract with Finnish giants HJK expires

After having the best season of his career it was expected that David Browne would renew his contract that expired at the end of 2022 with HJK in Finland – but that did not happen. There is still a chance that Browne will re-sign with HJK, but it doesn’t likely to happen, as most football sites already mention the player as a free agent. The winger – that really impressed in his past season – might even have a deal with a new club in horizon, but informations are still unknown.

David Browne – HJK Media

The 27-year-old Papua New Guinea player ends his stint with the Finnish giants with 103 appearances, 13 goals scored and 18 assists. He helped the team to win three Finnish national league titles (2020/21/22) and a one-time Finnish Cup winner (2020). At the club David Browne became the first Papua New Guinea-born player in history to play and score in a UEFA competition.

Oceania Football Center wishes the best of luck for David Browne in the next chapter of his career as we do follow closely the development of his game – expecting him to sign a pro-deal very soon.

Brian Kaltak sees controversial red-card as Mariners are defeated by Sydney FC

Ni-Vanuatu superstar Brian Kaltak saw his second red-card of his A-League season after a controversial foul this Saturday (04th Feb) in an encounter of his Central Coast Mariners against Sydney FC. His team was, at the moment, in an 1-1 draw away from home with one-man advantage, but Mariners were reduced to the 10-men just five minutes later Sydney FC’s defender Rhyan Grant was sent-off.

Kaltak sees red-card – A-League

The match’s referee understood Kaltak denied a clear goalscoring chance by fouling Sydney FC’s attacker, thus showing a direct red-card to the Vanuatu international. This was the same offence that Grant commited five minutes before to also see a red-card.

Fans in social media argued with the decision – some understanding the situation, but mostly saying the ‘referee ruined the game’. Indeed, the decision was a bit controversial as the attacking player did not seem to be in a clear opportunity chance of goal. You can see the video of the play by clicking here.

Still in the first half, Mariners managed to pull upfront with a goal scored by Jason Cummings, but with a bad performance in the final 45 minutes of the game, Mariners conceded twice and allowed Sydney FC to comeback and register a 3-2 home win. Mariners are still in good form, but they need to improve in their next matches if they want to keep at the top-of-the table – they are currently ranked 3rd in the process.

Fiji: Champion vs Champion series interrupted and postponed

The kick-off of competitive football in Fiji was under heavy rain in Nausori this Sunday (05th Feb). Both Suva and Rewa sides were ready for the first leg of the Champion vs Champion series at Ratu Cakobau Park. The match was interrupted at the half-time as the rain, this time, won the game.

Both teams were locked into a 0-0 draw after the first 45 minutes of play; both sides were only with 10-men at the break as Suva’s Inoke Turagalailai and Rewa’s Patrick Joseph were sent-off.

The pitch at Ratu Cakobau Park, Nausori – Fiji FA Media

The referee still waited more 30 minutes expecting the rain to calm down, but unfortunately the match needed to be postponed indeed. The Fijian FA already issue an statement about the case: “Due to unplayable ground condition the second half match of the Pillay Garments Champion vs Champion series between Suvav FC and Rewa FC has been postponed. A decision on when the game will be played will be decided by Fiji FA on Tuesday. Meanwhile all ticket holders are requested to keep their ticket for entry on the day the match will played. Any inconvenience caused is regretted“, said the FFA.

Lae City FC: Papua New Guinea football kings

Lae City FC remains unstoppable in Papua New Guinea; this Saturday (04th Feb) the team coached by Bob Morris once again celebrated the title of the PNG National Soccer League after beating Port Moresby’s Hekari United on the penalty shoout-out. Lae defended their crown in a very lively game that saw them coming from behind to celebrate the national league at Sir John Guise Stadium.

Lae City players celebrate the title – SOKA PNG

Ati Kepo scored for Hekari at the 13th minute of play with an individual effort; beating the defenders with his pace and sending it past Charlie Lepani to score the first of the game. Lae City was only able to level the match with a marvelous long-range free-kick finish from Kapuls members Alwin Komolong at the 71st minute. The game finished in an 1-1 draw, forcing both sides to play extra-time – after the extra 30 minutes nothing separated the two sides and the game needed to be decided on the penalty shoot-out.

Experienced players Alwin Komolong from Lae City and Hekari’s team captain Daniel Joe scored the first penalties for their teams. All kicks were scored until Lae City’s veteran goalkeeper Ronald Warisan – that subbed Lepani in the second-half – stepped-up and defended the last kick from Hekari. Lae City’s captain Emmanuel Simon converted the final penalty-kick for his team as celebration erupted in the stadium in favour of the Morobeans. Mancii, as Emmanuel Simon is nicknamed, was also chosen as the best player of the match. You can watch the highlights of the match by clicking here.

The exact moment when Warisan saves the penalty – KingPrins

Lae City is now seven-times Papua New Guinea national champions – seven-times in a row. The last time the Morobean side won the leage was in 2020 after a 1-0 win over Vitiaz United. In the 2021 season the national league was abandoned due COVID-19 restrictions – at that time Lae City and Hekari United were at the top of the table of its conferences and ended-up playing a playoff to decide which team would represent Papua New Guinea at the OFC Champions League in 2022.

Lae Natives, also from Lae, won the 3rd place-match against Gulf Komara by 1-0, claiming so the bronze-medal in the national league. Both Lae teams emerging victorious in the two decisive matches create a scenario of football dominance of Lae over Port Moresby currently in Papua New Guinea.

Lae City and Hekari United will meet once again this year; as per the OFC Champions League regulations, the top-two teams of the country must decide which of them will represent the nation at the competition. Thus, the finalists of the season will also have a playoff-like confrontation to determine the PNG’s representative at the O-League.

Raphael Lea’i gets worldwide recognition

The recent move for Raphael Lea’i is still making the world of football efusive; the 19-year-old striker deal with FK Velež Mostar from Bosnia and Herzegovina got attention not only in Solomon Islands or Oceania region – his achievement got worldwide recognition. The transfer speaks by itself, but the momentum proves the importance of this milestone reached by not only the young Lea’i, but as well for the entirety of Solomon Islands’ football community.

The first governing body to notice Rapha‘s achievement was Oceania Football Confederation, that wrote about the pro-deal signed by the player in Europe: “Raphael Lea’i, who was one of the stars of the OFC Qatar Qualifiers last year, has become the first player from the Solomon Islands to play professionally in Europe“, said the entity. Not much later, the 19-year-old appeared on FIFA’s official website on the spotlight: “One of Oceania’s brightest prospects, Raphael Lea’i underwent a successful trial with the Herzegovinian team in early January 2023 – which included a fruitful friendly appearance – thereby crossing the threshold he and his peers have been attempting to traverse since football’s nascent years on the islands“, said the rulling football governing body in an article wrote by Akshat Mehrish.

Raphael Lea’i – OFC Media

Important journals worldwide also reported the history-breaking moment for the local football; the Spanish Marca said: “A new barrier has fallen in European football. Raphael Lea’i, born in the Solomon Islands in 2003, has become the first player in the history of the Oceanian country to sign a professional contract with a European team“, wrote the big media outlet in an article wrote by Victor Romero.

Oceania Football Center – YouTube Channel

Media enterprises from all over the globe took a moment to report about this moment; in Poland, Indonesia, Netherlands, New Zealand, and certainly in Bosnia and Herzegovina were found reports by media. On social media a number of mentions from users about the deal were found.

It is a fantastic moment to be a fan of Oceanian football; Raphael Lea’i is the main reason at the moment. The expecations are high, but the player himself already achieved something very big. Hopefully, this is the first player from the South Pacific to break-through professional football. The door needs to opened – it was – there is talent in Oceania and it needs to be scouted!

Solomon Islands’ powerful-duo to join Rewa for upcoming season

The Delta Tigers recently announced their team-list for the 2023 football season in Fiji; two key additions were noticed in the squad: Alvin Hou and Atkin Kaua. The Solomon Islanders, both members of the Solomon Islands national team, are in the team for the upcoming season. Nazeel Buksh, Rewa’s FC president, confirmed the deals: “Alvin and Atkin both joins the team from next week. They will miss 1st leg of CVC series although“, said the chairman – confirming the players and also stating they are set to not play this weekend’s Champion vs Champion series first-leg match against Suva FC.

Alvin Hou and Atkin Kaua

Alvin Hou, also a Kurukuru member with experience at FIFA Futsal World Cup, is a very experienced attacking midfielder as well as Atkin Kaua, they can add a lot of fire-power upfront for the Delta Tigers. Both Hou and Kaua already represented Rewa last season when they joined the team for InterDistrict Championship; both players already played club football together as well for local powerhouse back in their country, the Solomon Warriors. Most recently, Kaua had a stint in Australia’s NPL side Wynnum Wolves FC, he also trialled in Europe before – this is not the first team of Kaua in Fiji as he already played for Nasinu.

Hou and Kaua also represented their country last year at the FIFA OFC World Cup Qualyfing Tournament, where they reached the grand final match against New Zealand, but unfortunately for them they were beaten in the match and denied a spot at the FIFA World Cup Intercontinental Playoffs.

Talented Solomon Islands’ Barrie Limoki set to rejoin the Green Machine

More football transfers are set to happen in Fiji for the upcoming football season; this time an international move links the return of the still 18-year-old attacker Barrie Limoki to Nadi FC. The Solomon Islands’ promising young-star played for the Green Machine last season and impressed the coaching staff; according to sources inside the Nadi FC board, the talented young player is confirmed back to Nadi.

Limoki played eight games last season for Nadi in the Fijian Premier League, but had also impact in the traditional local tournaments such as the Inter-District Championship. Despite so young, Limoki already has experience of playing in important local teams in Solomon Islands such as Kossa FC and Central Coast FC.

Barrie Limoki (right) as player of Central Coast FC – SIFF Media.

Limoki played for both U-17 and U-19 Solomon Islands national teams; including taking part of the historical first ever FIFA football tournament played by his country in 2019, when he helped Solomon Islands to qualify for the U-17 FIFA World Cup held in Brazil. The striker also took part on the last year U-19 OFC Championship as one of the most important players for his team.

Lae based teams face difficulties to arrive in Port Moresby for NSL Finals; clubs blame PNGFA management

The two last matches of the 2022 football season are set to be played this Saturday (4th Feb) in Port Moresby; the local side Gulf Komara is going to play against Lae Natives in the 3rd/4th place playoff for the National Soccer League, while the grand final match will be played by the local two-powerhouse sides Lae City FC and Hekari United, also held in Port Moresby.

Throught a lot of polemics, Lae City wanted the game to be held at Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium, in Lae, after hooliganism attacks in a semifinal match of the national league between Gulf Komara and Hekari United. The current national champions also released a statement last week emphasizing its critics on the organisation of the league in the current season.

Lae City and Lae Natives battle for the final in a seminfinal match of the PNG NSL – LaiMages Photography

NSL champion Lae City FC and Northern Conference Runners-up Lae Natives were advised by PNGFA’s NSL competition department to board the early 7am flight out of Lae today to Port Moresby for the season grandfinal but were turned back as the PNG semi-professional league competition department failed to make actual payment for their tickets. Both teams turned up as early as 4am this morning at Nadzab Airport for check-in, only to find out their booking references have not been paid thus they don’t have ticket numbers“, said Frankiy Guval Kapin, Media Manager of Lae City FC in a social media post, “While this is not the first time that PNGFA and NSL has failed its core duty to exercise neutrality against Lae based teams and especially the Lae City FC, both teams are more than motivated to make the grandfinal happen“, added Mr Kapin.

While the players of both teams were stuck in an airpot, Lae Natives management appeal the fans to step up and help the team to reach Port Moresby in good conditions; also in social media, the team management urged the Morobe football fans in Port Moresby to help the team as they did not count on any logistics in place, lacking accomodations, food and transportation when already in the capital city.

It is known both sides already touchdown Port Moresby for their matches scheduled to this Saturday (04th Jan), but certainly not as planned for the competition management and making the both teams to go through a serious embarrassment. On the meantime, PNGFA President John Kappi Nato blamed the local Air Niugini for the problems on the flights of both teams.