The Malaita Eagles are through to the semi finals of the Solomon Cup after a hard fought draw against the Makira Real Kakamora today.
Clement Baegeni’s stunning equalizer late in the first half ensured the defending champions progressed to the finals stage in front of a fully packed Lawson Tama stadium, as the Eagles only needed a draw to progress.
As expected, both teams bombarded each other’s half early in the first half, with multiple chances coming from both sides, but it was the Kakamoras who drew first blood after a penalty was awarded just inside the first 10 minutes.
Ian Ngahu stepped up to the challenge and placed the ball neatly passed Malaita keeper Jerry Tom to put his side ahead.
The goal however, did not dampen the Malaitan’s spirit as the ever hardworking and impressive Clifton Aumae orchestrating play from the center of the field and linking up with the speedy Baegeni , causing problems for the Kakamora defense.
It was not until the game was reaching half time when Clement Baigeni collected the ball just outside the 18 yard box, fended off the Kakamora defender and fired it passed the helpless Alex Pae to level the goals on half time.
The second was nearly a similar affair as both teams searched for a breakthrough, with Clement Baegeni and Nicholas Muri having clear chances on goal for both sides.
Ian Ngahu nearly got the winner for Makira from a long range strike from outside the box, fully stretching the Eagles goal keeper Jerry Tom, but luckily the shot just went inches over the cross bar.
The Eagles who were having the advantage from the draw didn’t step their foot of the accelerator as Clement Baegeni again raced down the left hand side sending the shot just inches away from the target.
Malaita coach Terry Oiaka said it was the team’s character that proved the difference.
“Makira played like champions, we expected the game to be a tough one because we already faced them last year in the final of the Solomon Games, so were already knew what they were capable of,” he said.
“We started well in the first half, which I was very pleased because most of the players are new and also young.”
When asked about his thoughts on the next stage, Coach Oiaka said he was not expecting an easy ride and that he has great respect for his upcoming opponents.
Malaita Eagles will face the runner up of pool A for the second semi final on Wednesday next week.
By: Lowen Sei