They are, Mendi One, TNT Jets, Poroma, Imbongu, Mendi Two, Kutubu, Lower Mendi and Upper Mendi.The eight teams were among 18 that came from districts throughout the province to challenge in the round robin games played last weekend. They played in four pools with the top two in each pool qualifying while the rest of the 12 teams were eliminated.The final play offs kick off on today with Imbongu taking on Upper Mendi in the first game.The second match will see Lower Mendi play TNT Jets, then Kutubu will challenge Mendi Two and later Poroma will battle with Mendi One.The tournament is aimed at scouting local talents to represent the Mendi Muruks in 2016 Digicel Cup season.
Games for the men’s premier, women’s and men’s reserve division will be held on Saturday and Sunday at Amini Park, Kilakila, Tubusereia and Vabukori.All games in the men’s premier division will be held at Amini with lots of action guaranteed for fans.On Saturday, Pure Water Raukele take on IBS Poreporena at 10.30am, followed by the main game at 2.30pm where Dulux United will go up against Hoods.Scheduled matches for Sunday are between Badili Hardware Wanderers and Pari. Pacific MMI Coasters and Big Rooster Kempa will play the main game.
The World Cup will be played across played across Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea in four pools.Three games will be played in PNG- October 28 and on November 5 and 12.“Concerning security, it’s not up to the PNGRFL, the event is being organised by the World Cup Committee.“But as members and stakeholders in the Local Organising Committee team, we (PNGRFL) will provide intelligence on cultural and environmental issues in PNG so that they (World Cup Committee) are in line and they can take the necessary precautions to ensure the games are safe and secure for all,” said PNGRFL Chairman, Sandis Tsaka.He said the Local Organising Committee will be meeting at the end of this year to release more details on updates of preparations especially to do with security for the World Cup.The World Cup will run from the October 27 to December 2.
Kicking off just over a year after the 2016 OFC U-17 Championship – and only a few months after the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Papua New Guinea – there are many familiar faces coming to Auckland this July.Defending champions New Zealand have recruited an army of international experience for their attempt at a sixth-consecutive title including Malia Steinmetz, Grace Jale, and goalkeeper Anna Leat – who will offer senior international football experience to Gareth Turnball’s squad having already been in the mix for the New Zealand national women’s team.Steinmetz and Jale were also part of New Zealand’s squad at the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, along with Hannah Blake, Jacqui Hand, Elizabeth Anton, Sarah Morton and goalkeeper Nadia Olla. Hand, Blake and Jale –along with 11 other players in the team – represented New Zealand at the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan as well.After their historic FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup campaign last year, Papua New Guinea also hold a handful of players from their world cup squad including Nicollete Ageva, who scored the nation’s only goal of the tournament against eventual champions Korea DPR.Adding more experience to his side in an effort to face-track the development of domestic players, Tonga coach Christian Koaneti has recruited three New Zealand-based players to meet the team in Auckland for the competition.Also contributing experience to the team, Tonga-based player Seini Lutu has already represented her nation at the 2014 OFC U-20 Women’s Championship, 2015 OFC U-20 Women’s Championship, and the 2016 OFC U-17 Women’s Championship. At only 16 years old, Lutu is a well-seasoned national team player and will be one to watch throughout the competition.Although Fiji will be making their debut in this age group, many players in the team have already made a name for themselves, representing Fiji in the U-17 competition last year.After edging New Caledonia 3-2 and placing third, many of the players have moved up to the next age-group, including goal-scorers Aliza Husseiin, Koleta Likuculacula, and Cema Nasau. The latter found the net five times in the U-17 competition, scoring twice in their third-place playoff against the Francophones.Also taking the field for Fiji is goalkeeper Francine Lockington, who proved her ability between the posts last year earning the 2016 OFC U-17 Women’s Championship Golden Glove Award.New Caledonia did a great job showcasing their development at last year’s U-17 competition – finishing second in their group behind eventful champions New Zealand – but the nation was less fortunate with results in 2015’s U-20 competition.With nine players moving up to join the next age group including Darnelle Hace, Ami-Nata Ajapuhnya, Isabelle Ilengo and goalkeepers Karine Xozame and Kathleen Waunie, New Caledonia are hopeful of an improved performance.This year’s Samoa U-19 team will have large shoes to fill after 2015’s representatives earned their highest placing in the nation’s history – finishing runners up behind New Zealand.As older players in the team have moved into the senior women’s football age group, spaces have been filled by players from last year’s U-17 team, including goalkeeper Jecky Toma, striker Sophia Aveau, and U-17 captain Shalom Fiso.After a tough campaign in the U-17 competition last year, the young Samoan players will be battling for redemption against plenty of other familiar faces moving up the ranks to U-19s when the competition kicks off next month.The 2017 OFC U-19 Women’s Championship will be played as a round-robin competition, running from 11-24 July at Ngahue Reserve in Auckland, New Zealand, to determine Oceania’s representative nation at the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France.
World number one Simona Halep gets a fourth chance to finally win a Grand Slam title when she starts as favourite in the French Open final against American Sloane Stephens on Saturday.The 26-year-old has pedigree on clay, knows what it feels like to step out on Court Philippe Chatrier to contest the title match and holds a 5-2 winning record over Stephens.She is also playing arguably the best tennis of her career.There is one major sticking point though, Halep has always fallen just short when the big prizes have been tantalisingly within reach — twice in the French Open final and also in this year’s Australian Open final.Tenth seed Stephens, the first American not called Williams to reach the Roland Garros final since Jennifer Capriati in 2001, by contrast has a perfect record in Grand Slam finals having beaten friend Madison Keys to win last year’s U.S. Open.Romanian Halep’s best chance came last year when she was a set and 3-0 ahead against unseeded Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, only to suffer a heartbreaking defeat.In Australia in January she ran out of gas on a steamy Melbourne night against Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki but after a relatively comfortable passage through the Paris draw, she will be firing on all cylinders this time.While the match is a huge occasion for Stephens, seven-times French Open champion Chris Evert believes Halep needs it more.“I think tomorrow is a bigger moment for Simona Halep than it is for Sloane Stephens,” Evert, a Eurosport analyst, said on Friday. “Simona has had three crushing losses in the finals, she is still searching for the elusive Grand Sam title.“To me, it is really going to depend on who’s the most fearless and who’s going to come out the box and play more aggressive tennis. To me, that’s the deciding factor.”A year ago Stephens, 25, could hardly have imagined contesting Grand Slam finals — let alone having won one already by the time she turned up in Paris this year.After the 2016 Rio Olympics she spent nearly a year sidelined with a foot injury and did not play at last year’s French Open. As comebacks go, it has been remarkable.“Obviously a lot of hard work went into it, a lot of adversity, a lot of ups and downs,” she said. “A lot of emotions, like ‘am I ever going to be the same? Am I ever going to play good again at a high enough level?’”Having known the frustration of time away from the court perhaps explains her almost trance-like calm in the heat of battle — always appearing unruffled.Halep is more emotive on court and her tenacity has earned her an army of fans. She will be the popular favourite on Saturday, if only for her sheer perseverance.“Okay, let’s make a deal. I will play for the fans from all over the world because I know that many are hoping me to win this Grand Slam finally,” she said.“I will put everything I have Saturday on the court. I will think that I will make many people happy. So maybe I will have enough power to win it.”
The two teams leading the championship race since the turn of the year, Apoel and Apollon clash at the GSP stadium where a win for the home side will leave them needing just a point from the remaining two games to clinch the title for the seventh year running.Apollon, who trail their opponents by three points, can only realistically hope of finishing above them if they win at the GSP stadium. They will also need Apoel to drop further points from their final two games because if they finish level on points, the champions will remain top, courtesy of their better head to head duals, having won all three times the sides met this season.However there is a third team with a chance of pipping both favourites to the post and that is AEK. The Larnaca team was trailing by over 10 points at the beginning of the year but they have gradually clawed their way nearer to the top and are now six points off the lead.Should Apollon leave Nicosia with the three points and AEK overcome Nea Salamina they will be three points off the top and the following week they travel to Limassol to play against Apollon.However whatever the outcome of the games this weekend Apoel will remain the title favourites.Even though a draw will favour Apoel it is highly unlikely that their Italian coach Paolo Tramezzani will park a bus in front of goal looking for a point that will maintain their three point cushion.Their most accomplished defender Carlao is suspended for the game while Greek midfielder Savvas Gentzoglou is still struggling with a hamstring strain. All other players are at the disposal of the Italian.For the first part of the season Apollon tormented their opponents with their fast flowing attacking football with a lot of pundits dubbing them as the next champions before the turn of the year.However in the past couple of months, injuries to key players and tiredness from a long Europa League campaign have seen their form slump dropping points against all but one of the top six teams.The two week Easter break has worked in their favour, not only allowing their players to rest but also giving the chance to key players Esteban Sachetti, Valentin Roberge, Mustapha Carayol and Fotis Papoulis to overcome their injuries and be fit for their ‘final’.The sad thing about this potential championship decider is that Apoel managed to sell just 400 tickets for the game (excluding season ticket holders) while the travelling fans will be less than 200.However a giant screen will be erected outside the stadium for the Apoel fans to watch the game. The running joke is that there will be more fans outside the stadium rather than inside.AEK’s can keep their slim championship hopes alive only if they defeat Nea Salamina at the Arena stadium.However it will not be an easy task as Nea Salamina are playing without any pressure in the playoffs and have picked up points against all the top three teams.In the final championship group game AEL take on Omonia in a game of little significance. AEL will have their thoughts on the upcoming Cup final where they will meet Apoel while Omonia is expected to give a number youngsters an opportunity to test their abilities in the top flight.Saturday: Apoel v Apollon, AEK v Nea Salamina, AEL v OmoniaSunday: Doxa v Alki, Anorthosis v Pafos FC, Enosis v ErmisAll 6 games start at 19.00
John McGinn continued his international goal-scoring streak as Scotland won 2-1 in Cyprus.The Aston Villa midfielder netted the winner in the 53rd minute with a first-time finish to make it five goals from his last five games for his country.Scotland were ahead for the vast majority of the Euro 2020 qualifier in Nicosia after Ryan Christie’s superb opener.But George Efrem might have had another goal to add to his equalising volley after an early strike appeared to bounce behind the line having struck the underside of the crossbar.Steve Clarke’s side leapfrogged Cyprus into third place in Group I of the European Championship qualifiers and will seal that position if they draw at home to Kazakhstan on Tuesday. However, Clarke will be desperate for another win to build momentum for the play-offs in March.The manager handed Motherwell centre-back Declan Gallagher his first Scotland cap and gave a competitive debut to Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack, while Steven Naismith captained the team on his 50th international.Cyprus would have sealed a historic best third-place finish if they had won and they came extremely close to a fifth-minute opener.Scotland’s reprieve came after Christie lost a challenge in the middle of the park. Pieros Sotiriou threaded the ball through to Efrem and the former Rangers and Dundee player turned Scott McKenna before firing a shot off the underside of the bar. There were strong appeals for a goal but – with no goalline technology – the Austrian officials played on.Scotland scored after a good spell of possession. McGinn turned and fed Christie on the right flank and the Celtic playmaker was allowed to cut inside before curling into the top corner from 20 yards.Clarke’s men were by no means in control and McGinn and Gallagher, twice, made important aerial challenges to stop the Cypriots getting headers on target, while David Marshall parried a 20-yard strike from Sotiriou.But the visitors had chances to take a bigger lead into the break. Christie saw a 20-yard effort saved after a counter and McKenna’s free header bounced into the goalkeeper’s hands off McGinn from one of a series of corners.McGinn later won the ball off goalkeeper Urko Pardo but could not find Naismith and Liam Palmer came close from 25 yards.Efrem got his goal two minutes after half-time when Grigoris Kastanos swung in a dangerous free-kick from the right, Gallagher headed the ball away and Efrem was in yards of space to volley into the top corner from 15 yards.It was the fifth set-piece goal Scotland had conceded in four matches, although Cyprus have been prolific from dead balls throughout their campaign – 10 of their 14 goals have come from set-plays.Scotland regained the lead inside six minutes when McGinn got in front of his man to sweep home Greg Taylor’s cross from eight yards.Naismith was replaced by Oli McBurnie just after the hour mark having appeared to strain his leg, although he ultimately walked off without too much difficulty.Cyprus pushed for an equaliser and came close when Ioannis Costi headed just wide after running on to a cross.Scotland’s best chance to give themselves a cushion disappeared when McGinn over-hit a pass to McBurnie and they found themselves under pressure in the closing stages. Fotis Papoulis blasted over from 12 yards and Kastanos came close from a free-kick.