By ISAAC LIRI
NATIONAL Soccer League defending champions Lae City are itching to get back into the groove as the semi-professional competition resumes after a three-week recess.
City coach Peter Gunemba told The National yesterday that they had been training during the recess and were set to face the cream of the country’s Under-21 talent in PNG Besta United in their round four fixture at the PNG Football Academy in Lae on Saturday.
“All our players are in good form and healthy and after three weeks off they are hungry to play,” Gunemba said.
“I am sure we will do well this weekend as we want to maintain the form we’ve displayed so far,” Gunemba said.
The Dwellers, who have won all three of their opening matches, should have their representative quartet in Raymond Gunemba, pictured, Emmnauel Simon, Obert Bika and goal-keeper Ronald Warisan backing up after playing in PNG’s 2-1 loss to the Solomon Islands in the OFC Stage 3 Qualifier in Port Moresby last Tuesday.
“We’d like to have them play but we’ll give them the option of resting up if they want to after playing for the Kapuls,” he said.
“We understand that those two losses to Solomon Islands were tough on the side, especially with them travelling and playing two international matches in five days so we’ll let the players decide if they want to play,” Gunemba said.
Star striker Raymond Gunemba – the coach’s son – is expected to play given past experience where he has made himself available despite carrying injury and or coming off hectic representative schedules.
His presence on the field should inspire the Dwellers as they look to stamp their class on an enthusiastic but inexperienced opposition.
Meanwhile, coach Gunemba extended his appreciation on behalf of the Dwellers management, players, fans and families, to PNG Kapuls coach Fleming Serristlev for having faith in the four Lae City players.
“We were hurting, as I’m sure other PNG fans were, for the Kapuls and we felt for our four players as well after Tuesday’s loss,” Gunemba said.
“I felt so sorry for Raymond, seeing his side go down like that but it’s God’s will and we accept it.”
Despite everything I just want to thank all our national players for standing tall.”
The NSL will be played in Port Moresby for the first time this weekend with Yamaros facing Huawei PS United at the Bisini soccer ground.
In the Morobe capital the PNGFA Academy will host a double-header including the Dwellers-Besta clash – the other fixture sees Madang take on Buang.
NSL competition manager Simon Koima said the three-week break because of the Kapuls involvement the World Cup regional qualifier was beneficial for all six franchises.
He said the NSL would hold mid-week matches (June 21) for round five.
Koima reminded the clubs to complete their master lists and send them before the June 20 deadline along with their K35 per player registration fees.
With round four to resume, Koima said the regular season would run for another five weeks (including two mid-week games) and end in round 10 on July 15 after which the finals would start.
Round 4 fixtures: Sat, June 17 – (PNGFA Academy oval, Lae) Madang FC v Buang FC at 10am, Lae City Dwellers v Besta United at 12.30pm; (Bisini soccer ground, Port Moresby) Yamaros FC v Huaweii PS United at 3pm.
By ISAAC LIRI