PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea champions Hekari United could be missing the services of attacking midfielder Samuel Kini who left on Sunday.
The only Southern Highlander (by way of Erave) playing for the champions, Kini has been one of the players instrumental in the side’s success in their O-League campaign for several years.
After turning 27 in October last year, Kini decided to turn a new leaf. Only time will tell but the decision is his own.
He returned to Mt Hagen after learning of an employment opportunity with Air Niugini.
“Yes, it is my own decision and yes, I am happy that I have made that decision,” he said.
Despite that the national representative, has built a reputation for being one of the toughest midfielders playing alongside Hekari captain David Muta whose skills and tactical nous have rubbed off on Kini.
Asked if there was any chance of returning to the club in the future, Kini said it depended on the Hekari management, adding that his chances were ‘very slim’ due to the influx of players from the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu and rising local talents.
He came off the bench to play against Eastern Stars in the opening of the 2013-14 Telikom National Soccer League challenge at the Bisini Soccer Grounds on Saturday.
“I am pretty sure the club will not give me that opportunity to play for them in future,” Kini said.
With Hekari, Kini has travelled to New Zealand, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands for the O-League campaign to play against other clubs in the region.
Apart from representing Hekari, Samuel has also been part of the PNG Under-23 side and the national squad to various tournaments in the region.
But not surprisingly, the highlight of his career was being part of the team that beat Waitakere United to take the O-League title in Auckland, New Zealand, and representing the region at the FIFA Club World Cup in Dubai, Abu Dhabi in December 2010 2010.
Kini has been part of the champion franchise after being plucked from the Welgris Highlanders after the semi-professional soccer league started in 2006.
He was among two others, Koriak Upaiga and Ian Yanum, who are still with the club.
Kini thanked the Hekari management, especially owner John Kapi Natto and wife, Vonnie, for giving him the opportunity to pursue his football career and wished the club and his team-mates the best in the NSL and the OFC champions league this season. [TheNational]