Top two share points

ON ATTACK - Western Tomoko target man Jaygray Sipakana drives with the ball as Malaita Eagles skipper Augustine Kafula keeps a close watch during the teams nil-all draw yesterday. Photo Peter Zoleveke II.
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DEFENDING Champions Malaita Eagles were held to a goalless draw against a determined Western Tomoko, as both teams maintained their undefeated form in Group A of the Solomon Cup 2020.

Both teams had chances to secure all three points but solid defending from both teams saw them share points yesterday.

Malaita Head Coach Terry Oiaka despite being unable to collect all three points yesterday’s said, the draw is crucial especially in a tough group of opponents.

“To earn a draw in the game is important for us; we know that our Group is tough. I’m satisfied with the boys’ performance though we have good goal chances to finish off but at least we got away with one point,” Oiaka said.

Oiaka also maintained that recovery is foremost for his players especially when playing four games in a row.

“A final group match remains for us, the important thing is for us now is to recover ahead,” Oiaka stressed.

The reigning champions came close on a number of occasions to snatching the lead, forward Junior Zimri and striking partner Norman Ngafu making countering threats, but were successfully held at bay by Tomoko defense, manned by veteran Lebo Rigeo and youngster Hensky Foata in the back.

Despite both defender’s solid performance, it was Tomoko’s custodian Dickson Brimson who got the praise for his exceptional performance, walking away with the Man of the Match award after keeping a clean sheet.

Western Tomoko Head Coach Seri Hite said his expectations coming into the fixture was to put up a good fight, against the defending champions.

“During our team talk coming in before the game we knew it will be tough as this is the top match for this Pool.

“We know going up against the current champions won’t be easy and we just wanted to give them a good game.

“I’m happy with players in both teams and the result is pleasing. What we are looking at now is to win the last game and if we win, we can qualify for the next stage,” Coach Hite said.

Temotu Arrows on the other hand managed to bounce back from their opening loss to Tomoko and hand Lauru Kukuvojo another nightmare defeat yesterday.

Arrows Head Coach Newman Leo was pleased with their 3-0 win and their first points, saying they will work harder for their remaining matches.

“We were still recovery from our first loss, and I thank God for the win and strength especially after traveling a long way to compete. We still have a number of weaknesses. Those have been identified and we will work on ahead of our next match,” Coach Leo said.

Despite suffering their second defeat, Kukuvojo Head Coach, David Pitabelama remains optimistic to bring back some pride for their province and fans.

“We did give a good fight but the best team won. We slowly picked up and I appreciate the players for their hard work as we look forward to give a good game for our two remaining opponents.,” he said.

Kukuvojo still has Guadalcanal Hornets and Western Tomoko left to play while Temotu Arrows has Malaita Eagles and Hornets left to play.

Meanwhile, following yesterday’s Group A match results, Eagles now leads Group A with seven points with a game left against Temotu Arrows followed by Western Tomoko in second with five points.

Temotu Arrows sits in third with three points followed by Guadalcanal Hornets in fourth with a point and then Lauru Kukuvojo who are still without a point.

With five points in the group standings from three matches Tomoko are now faced with a ‘must win’ clash with fellow westerners, Lauru Kukuvojo.

Eagles needs a win or a draw to qualify for the next stage while Arrows and Hornets chances remains alive, if they win their remaining matches.