Striker Kema Jack and defender Koriak Upaiga will take their talents to Northern Fijian district Labasa to play in the upcoming Battle of the Giants tournament.
The PNG internationals, who took part in last month’s Oceania Nations Cup in the Solomon Islands, are key figures for Hekari United. But they will find some familiar faces during their temporary switch to Labasa.
Maciu Dunadamu, Ilaitia Tuilau, Pita Bolatoga and Taniela Waqa all play for the district. The Fijians have been starring in the country with the Port Moresby-based Hekari in recent months.
The Fijian quartet will join forces with new arrivals Jack and Upaiga to form the nucleus of a strong-looking side. In addition, Labasa will have the services of talismanic striker Roy Krishna, who is based in New Zealand with Waitakere United.
Krishna returns to his native Fiji for the Battle of the Giants. The tournament is one of three major events on Fiji’s footballing calendar. The BOG, established in 1978, will take place from July 22-29.
Labasa will host the first round of fixtures at Subrail Park, while the other matches will all be held at Churchill Park, in Lautoka.
Labasa have been drawn in Pool One of the Super Premier section and will meet Rewa, Ba and Nadroga, while Pool Two features Lautoka, Nadi, Navua and Suva. Jack and Upaiga are sure to boost Labasa’s chances as both impressed at the Oceania Nations Cup despite PNG’s failure to make the semi-finals.
Jack scored his country’s only goal in open play with a header in the 1-1 draw with Fiji, while Upaiga showed great athleticism and fitness to push forward from his left back position and join the attack on numerous occasions.
Their new team will be looking to build on the triumph of October’s Inter-District Championship (IDC), which Labasa won for the first time in 17 years after beating Ba 1-0 in the final with a Dunadamu goal.
Jack and Upaiga will be the second lot of players moving to Fiji. The first two players were Eliude Fugre and Paschal Wojem, who played in this competition last year with Rewa.