There were thirty-six goals scored across six matches in the Papua New Guinea National Soccer League this weekend, as Lae City put eleven past Northern Youth FC, Morobe Wawens and Sepik enjoyed a ding-dong battle, sharing thirteen goals between them, while Hekari United put four past Southern Youth without reply.
There were goals in all three of the other games too in an entertaining afternoon in Lae and Port Moresby, but it is becoming increasingly clear that Lae City and Hekari United are the teams to beat in this year’s competition, with both teams sitting on a 100% record from their opening three fixtures.
In the two opening fixtures, the experienced core of Lae City Dwellers took on the youthful exuberance of Tusbab Stallions, and the two sides emerged with a share of the spoils after scoring a goal apiece. The result is the first draw of this year’s competition, but it’s difficult to gauge which side will be happier with the single point.
Dwellers, who claim up to four of the previous NSL titles, will be happy with the point after their 4–1 defeat to rivals Lae City last weekend, but may feel they ought to be doing better against far less experienced opposition. Freddy Steven scored for the Dwellers, while Alex Joel’s goal was enough to secure a point for Stallions, who are desperate to reach the playoffs after two seasons in which they have faded badly towards the end of the season.
Meanwhile, in Port Moresby, islanders Tavur FC took the lead through Francis Wibewa against the returning Central Dabari, but Iga Kala’s second goal of the season and super-sub Kawai Vakona dragged Dabari to victory, their second of the season.
Iga Kala is a relatively new face to the NSL, but has impressed in the opening three games for Dabari, only failing to score in their opening fixture against Gulf Komara, and the side will need him to remain on fire if they’re to push for their desired playoff spot alongside the likes of Komara and Hekari United.
In the 1pm kick-offs, the major action was to be found in Lae as Morobe Wawens and Sepik FC shared thirteen goals between them, with Wawens attacker Joshua Panget scoring five goals as he led his side to an incredible 9–4 victory over the Wewak-based side.
Wawens also scored through Bernard Purari, who has scored in every single game so far this season, as well as Giwi Simon, Brendan Ben, and Emmanuel Simongi. Wawens have shown skill and maturity that they haven’t demonstrated in several seasons, thanks partly to players they have brought in from other clubs in the off season.
Three of their scorers this week were playing for other sides last season, with Giwi Simon having been recruited from Morobe United, and Bernard Purari and Emmanuel Simongi coming from defunct sides FC Kutubu and FC Bougainville respectively.
Sepik’s goals came from Sadeth Nere, Ezekiel Yanum, Henry Salle, and Junior Moike, all of whom appear to have little to no experience of NSL football. That said, scoring four goals against a former OFC Champions League competitor is no mean feat, so congratulations must go to Sepik for doing so, and perhaps also some advice to work on their defensive structure ahead of their fixture next week.
Recruited players also led the way for POM Strikers as they picked up their first points of the season after coming from behind to beat Star Mountain. Riggie Togubai and Pettyshen Elizah came back to haunt their former club with a goal apiece, which cancelled out David Mosim’s opener for the Tabubil-based side.
Star Mountain have now lost three on the trot, and look to be struggling to find their feet in the division, despite having recruited well during the off-season themselves. The side brought in four players from the withdrawing FC Bougainville – goalscorer Mosim, Eaka Philemon – who scored their solitary goal against Hekari United on the opening day – Basil Jofari and Steven Inia, as well as Joel Tiampo and Russell Kambaka from Vitiaz United. But so far the signings have failed to gel, and the side look bereft of ideas.
The final two fixtures of the day saw both development sides offered up as sacrificial lambs to the biggest sides in the league. Northern Youth FC were slaughtered by reigning champions Lae City, who pummelled eleven goals past the poor youngsters, with Jonathan Allen scoring four, Stahl Gubag and Emmanuel Simon scoring a brace each, and Jibola Afonji, Junior Morgan and Felix Komolong all getting in on the action.
The results sees Lae City maintain their three-point lead ahead of Morobe Wawens, with their major rivals Lae City Dwellers a further five point back in fourth place.
Meanwhile, Hekari United also demonstrated their continued dominance of the Southern Conference with a comfortable 4–0 victory over Southern Youth FC. Nigel Dabinyaba scored a hat-trick to put himself on seven goals for the season after just three games, clear of Wawens’ Panget in second place.
Despite being three points clear at the top of the table, though, Hekari should still be wary of Gulf Komara behind them, who were on a bye this week and have won two out of two so far.