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Morobe Flexes its Strengt in Soccer as TOTY City FC crowned 2019 NSL Champions

By: Josu Kim / FM100

Known for its undisputed dominance throughout the country in soccer, Morobe Province has once again showed its strength in the semi professional soccer competition in the country, the National Soccer League when its two teams caused upsets in the grand final and 3th and 4th placing playoff at the Sir John Guise Stadium in Port Moresby yesterday afternoon.

Toti City crowned 2019 NSL Championship

Although being away from home, Morobeans from far and wide in all walks of life in Port Moresby also showed the passion that Morobe Province has for soccer, turning in hundreds to watched their boys' going for the showdown the whole of Saturday.

The spirit of soccer was truly shown by the Morobeans yesterday, although one could imagine how it would have been be like if the finals were played in Lae.

The opening match for the 3rd and 4th placing saw the Morobe United boys with the involvement of their vocal Morobean supporters dominating much of the match down to full-time against the Eastern Stars Football Club.

Despite the game being played at 12:30pm the time of the day when Port Moresby experiences experiences scorching heat waves, the Morobe boys overcame the halftime deficit of 2-1 to come out victorious 3-2 on full-time.

If not only for the class displayed by the Morobean lads on the playing field, their fellow passionate Morobean supporters deserve commendation for their support all throughout the opening match.

The elevation of excitement came in the 2nd and main match of the afternoon, the much awaited and longed for clash of the football giants in the country, the Hekari United FC and Toti City FC formerly Lae City Dwellers, the team known to have the top cream of Morobean footballers.

The grandfinal was an absolute thriller from the opening whistle to the rarely experienced extended phase in the game of soccer.

With the chants of the famously known Yabim language catchphrase "Asa Sumba" from the dominating Morobean supporters and the mixture of Southern Highlanders and POM City fans of Hekari, the boys on the field showed football class on the field, each side not taking their opponents lightly.

The aggression was obvious with both sides being issued the yellow card constantly at random times throughout the entire regular match time.

In the engine room of the opposing teams, the experience and skills of veteran Hekari and PNG national David Muta was evenly matched with Toti and his fellow PNG national Emmanuel Simon.

Muta however succumbed to his injury which saw him in tears leaving the field for the remainder of the game on the 80th minute mark.

Up front, Toti's strikepower Raymond Gunemba, Nigel Dabinyaba, Obert Bika and Michael Foster were kept at bay by the strong Hekari backline of Vanuatu's import Jason Thomas and another veteran PNG national Koriak Upaiga while Hekari's strike power Solomon Island's import Tutizama Tanito was closely watched by Toti's evenly strong back line of Valentine Nelson and their Kiriwina represent Mosebuya Milubwa.

Tanito's attempts at the goal mouth couldn't go past Toti and PNG national team goalkeeper Ronald Warisan who put out an outstanding performance despite his injury right through to the sudden death penalty shootouts.

Without Muta, Hekari could be seen finding their rhythm to the game while Toti dropped their intensity in the middle of second half.

The last 10 minutes of the regular game time saw Gunemba, Dabinyaba, Bika and Foster teaming up with their short pass and run play but couldn't complete the passes enough to find the goal mouth.

Both teams held onto the full-time nil-all as the stadium lights brightened up the evening.

The extra time of 15 minutes in each half saw both teams pushing for a goal with speed, agility and sheer determination but were even at all levels bringing the game to the penalty shootout.

In the even more interesting moment of the game, all eyes were on Toti's goalkeeper Warisan who was helped off the field in the closing stage of the extra time sending a feeling of concern from the Morobean side and their supporters.

Warisan however proved his doubters wrong saving the 3rd penalty kick from Hekari and sending the Morobean crowd into extreme exhilaration.

His opponent from Hekari Ishmael Pole on the other hand made daring saves saving the penalty shot attempt from Toti as Warisan saved the second time taking the scores to 3 all before Raymond Gunemba gets the final attempt for Toti in the first 5 attempt penalty shootout.

With the majority of fans and team members and officials of Toti City already felt victory coming their way while their opponents could sense defeat, Gunemba's shot was blocked off by Hekari's Pole in an outstanding goal saving performance.

Leveled at 3 all, the two teams now head into the sudden death penalty shootout, where each team gets attempt each at taking shot of which players who do not participate in the first 5 attempts gets to kick.

The opener by Hekari went through taking the lead to 4-3 in favour of Hekari before Toti equalized to 4 all.

Hekari then went for another shot attempt by Shane Sakael who was denied a goal by a brilliant save from Warisan.

Leaving little hope for Hekari, Toti's Emmanuel Simon took the opportunity for the final kick attempt making no mistake in finding the back of the net and sending the Morobeans into a state of extreme euphoria.

Toti City FC are now the outright 2019 National Soccer League Champions defeating Hekari United FC 5-4 in a fascinating, entertaining, and high level PNG football match thriller.  FM100/PNG Today

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