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Review of Telekom S-League Round 1

The kick off on Saturday 12 February ushered in a new era for football in the country with the pace already being set for the future with the competition and determination expressed by the clubs and players who are digging their heels in for the biggest ride of 2011.
An interesting feature of the Telekom S-League is the amount of youth talent that is wowing spectators. Starting from KOSSA’s Michael Sira and Micah Lea’alafa to Solomon Warriors Dennis Ifunaoa, these youngsters are claiming their place among the big names and provide a preview of the future of national football in the country.
We look back at the happenings of the first round through this article and preview the likely direction that the clubs will be taking in the second round according to how they stand after the first round.
Koloale finished the first round on top after winning all of their games and bagging 29 goals in the process while conceding only 5 for an average of 4 goals per game. Their statistics are impressive anyway you look at them and their performance on the field has been solid from front to back. Koloale’s biggest asset is former Waitakere United forward Benjamin Totori who started of the season as playmaker but finished as the top scorer so far with 13 to his name. Very few teams are able to get shots firing against the Koloale goal courtesy of the proactive defending approach employed by George Suri and Samson Takayama who have done well for their club in their first 7 matches.
Koloale is likely to continue its winning ways in the second round if they maintain the commitment and discipline that they have exerted so far but the road on the other side of the break will not be easy as other teams in the competition are picking up as well.
Current position: 1
Top scorers: Benjamin Totori = 13; Ian Paia = 8
High performers: Benjamin Totori; Samson Takayama; Shadrack Ramoni
Statistics: Played=7; Wins=7; Draws=0; Losses=0; Goals For=29; Goals Against=5; Goal Difference=24; Points=21
Western United
Western United are a surprise story as nobody really expected a provincial side to be among the top 4 of the Telekom S-League let alone occupy the second spot in the ladder. Their biggest weapon so far has been coach Stefan Metanolmski who has shaped up a collection of regular players into a lethal band of goal hungry henchmen over the course of a couple of games. The pace of their forwards has been used well against their opponents with quick linking coming between Leonard Rokoto in the centre and United’s strength seems to be centred on their front and middle section as shown by their tally of 13 goals for and 9 against and this will need to be corrected for the second round when competition is expected to be tougher.
Western United will be missing some key players who will be away on international duty so their performance in the second round may be affected. However, the team is compact as a unit and they will be giving everything to defend their comfortable position in the table.
Current position: 2
Top scorers: Nathan Kera = 5;
High performers: Nathan Kera; Leonard Rokoto; Felix Ray Jnr.
Statistics:: Played=7; Wins=4; Draws =1; Losses=2; Goals For=13; Goals Against =9; GD=4; P=13
Solomon Warriors
Solomon Warriors started slowly but are now doing well and they claim third position in the Telekom S-League ladder after the first round. The reason for their slow start may be rooted in their new players, namely James Naka and Dennis Ifunaoa, taking time to settle into their playing style. Initially they relied on a combination of speed and short passes that presents a broad threat for their opponents to deal with but they have diversified their game to use the pace of certain individuals in their line up. Naka has not made the impact everyone expected as the goal scorer but he is performing an important role nonetheless up front creating rather scoring goals.
The Warriors are picking up from each game and will be pushing strongly against Koloale for the pole position in the second round. Their line up of talented players only need to be pointed in the right direction to be a lethal attacking force in the Telekom S-League and once this happens everybody should be on their guard.
Current position: 3
Top scorers: Dennis Ifunaoa = 6;
High performers: James Naka; Dennis Ifunaoa; Molis Gagame Jnr.
Statistics: Played=7; Wins=3; Draws=3; Losses=1; Goals For=12; Goals Against =7; GD=5; P=12
KOSSA are picking up pace after a slow start and could have been further up in the table save for a technicality that cost them valuable points halfway through the first round. However, the former O-League finalists have rallied and come back strongly to consolidate their position in the upper half of the table after seven games. KOSSA is talent packed from front to back and there is great potential in the side especially with young players like Michael Sira and Micah Lea’alafa making their mark this early but injuries to several of their key players is also affecting their consistency on the field.
KOSSA will be a strong unit in the second round because of the experience its young players have gained in the first round. Their level of confidence is growing and once their workhorses come back into form KOSSA will pressure Koloale for the spot on the top of the table.
Current position: 4
Top scorers: Clifford Wate = 4;
High performers: Seni Ngava; Severino Aefi; Clifford Wate
Statistics: Played=7; Wins=3; Draws=1; Losses=3; Goals For=13; Goals Against =15; GD=-2; P=10
Hana have done well to break out from the bottom of the Telekom S-League table where they were situated after their first 3 matches. Hana’s turnaround is based on taking a proactive approach to attacking rather than a reactive one and this has worked well for them despite the occasional hiccup they have encountered. Hana’s defence has greatly improved as well and this has helped them support their midfield who in turn supplied their forward with more balls and, therefore, create more opportunities. The performance of Geoffrey Henry has also been vital to Hana’s recent fortunes with the midfielder’s work rate attracting the attention of national selectors already.
Consistency will be Hana’s major concern in the second round. However, finishing in the top four will be great motivation for Rex Masuaku’s men. Certainly, Hana will be making use of the guest player opening to bolster its ranks with more forwards and this will help strengthen their case for TSL round 2.
Current position: 5
Top scorers: Tony Otini=6;
High performers: Tony Otini; Geoffrey Henry; Remarx Kwaria
Statistics: Played=7; Wins=2; Draws=2; L=3; Goals For=13; Goals Against =11; GD=2; P=8
Marist Fire started off swinging with 2 wins in their first 2 matches but they were not able to hold it together and finished their remaining matches of the first round without any more wins. However, their performance remains solid but their main issue seems to be finding the back of the net. Joachim Waroi has stood out for Marist Fire as a utility player and his contribution has been tremendous.
For the second round Marist Fire will likely improve with the inclusion of guest players who will strategically fit into areas they are finding problems in such as scoring. Their young players gathering confidence from the first round will also be a positive asset for them.
Current position: 6
Top scorers: Bentley Nalangu=3;
High performers: Joachim Waroi; Navusu Kitu; Arnold Keni
Statistics: Played=7; Wins=2; Draws=2; Losses=3; Goals For=13; Goals Against =11; Goal Difference=2; P=8
Malaita Kingz undoubtedly have one of the toughest backlines in the Telekom S-League but this stren
gth is not complemented at the front and this leaves defenders with too much to deal with all the time. The Malaita Kingz forward pack has created many a scoring opportunity but have struggled to put them away and this is the main reason for their current position in the table. Veteran Charles Irobina has been a key player in driving the Kingz attack but his crosses are often not connected with properly or not at all.
How Malaita Kingz will perform in the second round will largely depend on recruiting a couple more goal scorers into the team. Their game plan is general enough to fit any striker in and having a real goal scorer up front will complete the team and make more wins go their way in the round 2. Their strong backline will be a key asset for them but they need to threaten their opponents at the front and ensure they get more goals.
Current position: 7
Top scorers: Charles Irobina=2;
High performers: Charles Irobina; Dick Bensy; Fanai Koti
Statistics: Played=7; Wins=2; Draws=1; Losses=4; Goals For=4; Goals Against =12; Goal Difference=-8; P=7
Real Kakamora have struggled throughout the first round and are without any points and sit on bottom in the Telekom S-League table after seven games. However, points tell only one side of the story and Real Kakamora has made many strides going towards the end of the first round. More improvement is seen in their game but this has come slowly while the all the other teams in the competition have rapidly moved in front. Lately, Real Kakamora has stepped up the speed of their game which is more suited to their players and their defence has gained more confidence as well.
The second round will be a big challenge for Real Kakamora to get back into the fight but positive signs are showing for them and they will certainly make a more significant mark on the other side of the mid season break. Real Kakamora is among clubs who may be looking to add fresh blood to their line up for round 2.
Current position: 8
Top scorers: Peter Kennedy=1;
High performers: Kluivert Dagi Jnr.; Ian Ngahugari
Statistics: Played=7; Wins=2; Draws=1; Losses=4; Goals For=4; Goals Against=12; Goal Difference=-8; P=7
Telekom S-League Top Goal scorers
Benjamin TOTORI 13
Ian PAIA = 8
Tony OTINI = 6
Dennis IFUNAOA = 6
Nathan KERA = 5
Clifford WATE = 4
Mostyn BEUI = 3
Bentley NALANGU = 3

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