Eastern Stars F.C.
|Full name||Eastern Stars Football Club|
|Ground||Bisini Soccer Ground, Port Moresby|
|League||Papua New Guinea National Soccer League|
Eastern Stars FC are an association football club based in Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea. The club competes in the Papua New Guinea National Soccer League, the country's top division, and was founded in July 2007. Eastern Stars have never won the league championship, and their best-ever finish is as runners-up in 2010–11. Despite being based in Milne Bay, the club plays its home matches at the 1,500 capacity Bisini Soccer Ground in the capital, Port Moresby.
Eastern Stars FC were founded in July 2007 following concern from Milne Bay residents that the lack of clubs in the area had led to many local players joining Port Moresby-based teams; the club's name is derived from "the star from the East", a symbol that features on the Milne Bay provincial flag.
2009–10 saw similar results for Stars: they again finished in fifth position, and this time only a poor goal difference denied them a place in the semi-finals. The club struggled in the first half of the season, having a six game winless streak between November and January, but managed to win their last five games to soar up the table. They were edged into fifth place by University Inter FC who had a superior goal difference.
Eastern Stars finished as runners-up to PRK Hekari United in the 2010–11 season. This remains their best-ever finish in the league. After qualifying for the semi-finals, Stars came up against Tukoko Unitech and won 3–1, with Solomon Islander Karol Kakate among the scorers. This win put the club in the final against PRK Hekari United, but they lost 4–0.
In October 2011, ahead of the 2011–12 season, the club appointed Luis Jaime Gomez as its new head coach. Gomez played professional football for Chilean club Club Deportivo Universidad Católica in the 1960s and 1970s. Stars made a great start to the 2011–12 season, winning their opening match on 16 October 2011 against Petro Souths FC 7–0 with two goals from Lab Embel. The club won three, drew four and lost two of the next nine games, lying in second place at the league's winter break in December. However, midway through the season Gomez left the club, and franchise owner Joseph Ealedona installed himself as team manager. Eastern Stars eventually finished as league runners–up to Hekari, and were beaten 5–0 by the same team in the league final on 17 April 2012 in front of a 5,000-strong crowd. Stars received K25,000 for their achievements.
In April 2012, a total of six Eastern Stars players were included in Papua New Guinea's 30–man squad for the 2012 OFC Nations Cup, held in the Solomon Islands; namely Paul Peter, Jeremy Yasasa, Cyril Muta, Michael Foster, Eliud Fugre and Felix Bondaluk. On 2 August 2012, it was reported former Eastern Stars and Papua New Guinea midfielder Adrian Komu had died at Port Moresby General Hospital at the age of 29.
In December 2012, Stars' participation in the 2013 NSL season was thrown into doubt when the NSL board reported that only three clubs had met payment deadlines for the new season; Stars were not among them, and only an additional three places were available in the league despite six other clubs registering their interest. The club finally confirmed its inclusion in the league on 25 January 2013, just one week before the start of the season; the PNG Post Courier reported that they were one of two "late-comers" along with NC Oro. Following a mass exodus of players at the end of the 2011-12 campaign, the club appointed former Papua New Guinea national team assistant manager Max Foster as its coach for the new season. Stars faced NC Oro in the league's opening fixture of 2013, and despite fielding an entirely new squad from 2012, Stars defeated their opponents 3-1, thanks to a Patrick Aisa brace and Danny Banaba. However, Stars' plight was downhill from then on, and they eventually finished sixth out of the eight teams - the lowest finish in the club's history.
Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Notable former players
Former Eastern Stars players who have represented their country include:
- Bisini Soccer Ground 2 - Info Soccerway. Retrieved 25 December 2011.
- Papua New Guinea 2010-11 SoccerKing.co.uk. 8 January 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
- NSL Club Profile: Eastern Stars FC OleOle.com. 16 November 2008. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- Column: NSL Club Profiles PNG Post Courier. 13 November 2008. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- Milne Bay Province Flag (Papua New Guinea) CRWFlags.com. 25 August 1998. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
- Papua New Guinea National Soccer League: Season So Far Extra Time. 13 March 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- Papua New Guinea 2008 RSSSF. 6 November 2009. Retrieved 25 December 2011.
- Papua New Guinea 2009 RSSSF. 28 October 2010. Retrieved 25 December 2011.
- Eastern Stars get Chilean coach Post Courier. 5 October 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- Eastern Stars Rampage PNG Post Courier. 17 October 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2011.
- Papua New Guinea - Eastern Stars - Results and fixtures Soccerway.co.uk. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- Hekari Claim Fifth Straight Title Oceania Football Confederation. 17 April 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- Hekari United 5-0 Eastern Stars PNGFootball.com. 17 April 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- Farina names Papua New Guinea line-up Oceania Football Confederation. 24 April 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- Loss of former international mourned Oceania Football Confederation. 6 August 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
- Loss of a PNG future midfielder Papua New Guinea Football Association. 7 August 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
- League Kick-off Postponed Papua New Guinea Football Association. 19 December 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
- Chairman Urges Teams to Pay Affiliation Fees Papua New Guinea Football Association. 17 December 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
- NSL All Set to Kick Off PNG Post Courier. 30 January 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
- Max Foster - Coach Data Sheet Transfermarkt.co.uk. 1 July 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
- National League Kicks-Off 2013 Season Papua New Guinea FA. 2 February 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- NSL: Stars Defeat Oro Papua New Guinea FA. 4 Februa ry 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- Papua New Guinea: Telikom NSL Standings FIFA. 25 May 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
- Squad: Eastern Stars FC NationalFootballTeams.com. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- Eastern Stars FC - Current Squad transfermarkt.co.uk. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- Eastern Stars - Results and fixtures at Soccerway.co.uk