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S-League openers provide thrills

The opening weekend of the 2017/18 S-League season got underway on Saturday with newcomers Henderson Eels continuing their pre-season form by holding defending champions Marist FC to a 1-1 draw at Lawson Tama Stadium.

Solomon Warriors got their campaign off to a bright start with a 4-0 win over Real Kakamora while Sunday’s encounters saw Malaita Kingz and KOSSA earn three points too.

In the opening encounter it was Marist’s newest recruit, Solomon Islands national team captain Henry Fa’arodo who scored his debut goal for the club to put them ahead in the 17th minute.

While the Eels might be newcomers to the league, they boast a wealth of experienced players among their ranks and it was courtesy of two such players that they earned the equaliser.

Alick Maemae won a 50-50 ball in the centre of the park, sending captain Dennis Ifunaoa through on goal where he struck with precision to bring his side in line before half-time.

Marist coach Juliano Schmeling said he was disappointed his side weren’t able to get the full three points.

“I think for me it was not a good start as we were expecting the full three points coming into this game,” he said.

“I will have to be honest, in the first half we didn’t perform well. I think we gave them too much time on the ball, but in the second half we definitely played better.

“We totally respect the Eels side because they have a good team and I think it’s a good start for this season for them.”

Eels coach Chris Asipara credited his side for a great start to the season.

“I am very happy with the boys because they did very well against the defending champions who have been together for a while,” Asipara said.

“That game gave us a moral boost as we will try to do better in the next game.”

The only dampener on the match was the red card shown to Eels’ Joses Nawo after a reckless tackle on a Marist defender late in the game.

OFC Champions League 2016 participants Solomon Warriors got off to a fine start with international Gagame Feni scoring just ten minutes into the match against Real Kakamora on Saturday.

Vanuatu international Kensi Tangis extended the lead allowing his side to take a 2-0 cushion into the changing rooms at half-time. Feni scored the third before former international Iam Paia put the match to bed late in the second half.

Solomon Warriors and Real Kakamora in action. Credit: Solomon Star

Warriors coach Moses Toata said the win was an important one for his side.

“Opening games are always hard but the boys managed to come clean with a 4-0 win,” he said.

“Although the combinations were not really what I expected, the win is very important to us.

Sunday’s encounters saw KOSSA bring down a strong FC Guadalcanal side 3-0, with Obed Ofea, James Naka and George Suri each netting for their side.

“I’m happy with the win, especially the first three points from the opening match is a positive,” KOSSA coach Eddie Marahare said.

“The win will motivate my players to look forward to the next game. The message to our boys is that every game is treated as the final.

Malaita Kingz also went home with three points after beating last season’s runners-up Western United.

Additional reporting: Solomon Star

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