Watemae rises to S-League challenge

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Kennedy Watemae, right, evades a tackle from Henderson Eels’ midfielder
David Muta while James Naka runs, left, runs in to support.

KENNEDY Watemae responded to football fans’ demand he should be a top striker in the Telekom S-League by scoring twice to help Kossa FC come from behind to drown Henderson Eels 3-1 yesterday at Lawson Tama stadium.

Watemae equalized for Kossa FC early in the second half with a clever finish past an onrushing Henderson Eels goalkeeper before giving his side a 2-1 lead after beating the last defender inside the area before blasting home from close range.

And so easily could have had a hat-trick.

Kossa FC put the game to bed with a late third goal putting Eddie Marahare’s side top of the Telekom S-League with seven points from three matches.

Afterwards Watemae, a recent pick from the Solomon Cup tournament, revealed he is reveling in the responsibility the coach has placed on his shoulders as the first choice striker.

“The coach wants me to be the goal scorer for the team that’s why I’m in the starting lineup and I have to do my best as much as I can,” the 19-year-old said.

“We work hard in training and it is paying off. It is promising, our fans want to see wins and they will be pleased today (Wednesday).

“I’m really happy to score two goals my first goals for the club. It is just the start, I hope I can score more goals in the coming matches.

“We just need to keep working to our coaches’ plan,” he said.

Watemae missed Kossa FC’s disappointing 3-3 draw against Malaita Kingz over the weekend but returned against Henderson Eels yesterday with a commanding performance, just a reminder why this teenager was drafted into the Solomon Islands national team by Spanish coach, Felipe Vega-Arango after the Solomon Cup in July.

He made some impressive runs into the area inviting passes from mid-field and had at least two other clear one on one opportunities that were denied by the equally impressive Eels young goalkeeper, James Do’oro.

“The first one I tried to chip the keeper but it did not work out and the second, well, I decided to shot when I could have just placed it into the net,” Watemae recalled his missed scoring chances after the game with a smile.

Of Watemae’s instant impact, former national goalkeeper Severino Aefi, a member of Kossa FC’S coaching staff said: “He is playing well, he is working hard. He likes the team and the team likes him. For every striker, he can play remarkably well. I admire how he plays. Its football, he is one of those players who might not seem fast, but when he is on the ball he is very dangerous.”

Aefi, who was an O-League finalist with Kossa FC during the 2008 season, said the club’s display and confidence was more important than being top of the table this early in the season.

“The fact we start winning and are top, it means nothing. The performance and the levels of confidence to last the whole 90 minutes in a game is what means a lot to me.

“We lost two points against Malaita Kingz at the weekend [in a 3-3 draw] when we were already 3-0 up in the game. Today (Wednesday) we got the three points. The reality is that in the last part of the game, instead of defending a narrow lead, we scored a third goal. What pleased the most was the win.

“Because many times last season we deserved to win and didn’t so the fact we won the match was the most important thing. We made mistakes and have room for improvement but it was a solid performance,” Aefi said.

In addition to Watemae, Captain James Naka caught the eye against Henderson Eels with a display which offered Kossa FC control over the midfield battle against the likes of PNG international David Muta and Clifton Aumae.

After an impressive start in their first season in the Telekom S-League which included holding champions Marist FC 1-1 in the opening weekend, Henderson Eels FC, comprising of mostly renowned players in Honiara, suffered their first defeat from a team effort by Kossa FC.

The 2017 season of the Telekom S-League continues this weekend with Solomon Warriors and defending champions Marist FC already showing signs of being strong title contenders.

 

— BY PHILIP LILOMO

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