Lae and Hekari set for classic clash in Papua New Guinea NSL

The top two sides in the Papua New Guinea National Soccer League will go head-to-head in Lae this weekend in one of the most anticipated matches of the season so far.

Lae City will be without talismanic striker Raymond Gunemba after it was confirmed he received a five-match ban for pushing a referee after the game against Vitiaz United a few weeks ago, but otherwise the two squads will be at full strength for the game, which is the final match in the first round of fixtures in the competition.

Hekari played Lae in last year’s Grand Final, with Lae winning on penalties. Photo: PNGFA

Following Hekari’s 0-0 draw with third-placed Vitiaz United last weekend, the eight-time champions are only one point ahead of the current title-holders, meaning a Lae victory would propel the side to the top of the table. However, if Hekari are victorious, this would give them a four-point cushion going into the second half of the season.

Whatever the result, Vitiaz United have a chance to capitalise. Lae host Hekari in Lae at 3pm local time, while Vitiaz United also travel to Lae to take on the struggling Morobe Wawens at 1pm. A victory for Vitiaz could see them end up in second place at the turn of the season, which is a remarkable achievement for a club just making their debut in the semi-professional domestic competition. In the early kick-off in Lae, Morobe United host Tusbab Stallions, meaning all four of the top four sides will be strutting their stuff at the Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium on Saturday.

In Port Moresby, fifth-placed FC Bougainville will be hoping to push the pressure on Tusbab Stallions in fourth by winning their match against Star Mountain at 1pm. At 3pm, Gulf Komara will host FC Kutubu in what should be a competitive game.

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