Toti City reigns supreme

The pride of Lae City, Toti City FC, are the 2019 Kumul Petroleum National Soccer League champions.

The boys from Lae beat Hekari United 5-4 in a very close encounter at the Sir John Guise Stadium on Saturday.

The atmosphere was one of high with anticipation and excitement as Hekari United supporters, donned in red, occupied one area of the stands while Toti City fans, in yellow and waving Morobean flags, could be seen at every corner of the Sir John Guise Stadium.

The 2019 grand final match between the two top semiprofessional football teams had supporters on their toes as the tug of war started on the pitch a few minutes after 3pm.

Just a minute into the match and Hekari’s Ati Kepo scored, only to be ruled offside.

That was the wakeup call the Lae team needed as they proved to be dominant in ball possession and attack, coming dangerously close to the Hekari’s net. Their impressive buildup from the back, however, fell short as their strikers were unable to find the net.

The Hekari defenders, on the other hand, worked over time to keep the lightning fast Raymond Gunemba and Nigel Dabinyaba from scoring, with Hekari keeper Ismael Pole’s agility denying their rivals any points during regulation time.

A return from halftime saw the tug-of-war continue, where Toti’s Michael Foster picked up their first yellow card over a poor challenge on Nathan James.

Around 12 minutes later, Toti picked up another yellow card while the Hekari’s David Muta was substituted by Willie Gia.

Though extra time was given, both teams proved to be equally matched in strength and stamina, leading to a thrilling penalty shootout, with the Lae boys winning the 2019 title, 5-4.

Meantime, in the third playoff, Morobe United FC defeated Eastern Stars FC 3 – 2.

Carmella Gware