By ISAAC LIRI
PAPUA New Guinea will remember Faith Kasiray’s impressive debut in the country’s last group match against North Korea in the Under-20 women’s soccer World Cup on Sunday.
The lass from Goroka, Eastern Highlands, played in the third game after first-choice goalkeeper Lavina Hola was rested by coach Lisa Cole.
The two previous Fifa-sanctioned matches Kasiray, pictured, played in were against Namibia and Venezuela during the Youth Football tournament in Nanjing, China, two years ago.
Having played in such tournaments before, Kasiray may not have been short on experience but her dream was to at least make a mark in this year’s Under-20 World Cup and have a taste of the global tournament against some of the best female footballers on the planet.
“I am so happy I got the opportunity to play for PNG and I will use this experience to be a better player in the future,” Kasiray said.
When her opportunity finally came, the 16-year old stunned fans at the National Football Stadium with a performance belying her years.
Evident to fans at the stadium and to those who watched on television, PNG played with more gusto and determination, with Kasiray a surprise standout.
She captured the nation’s collective eye with 14 incredible saves — showing no signs of nerves or apprehension and resolutely went about protecting the PNG goal, even though PNG lost 7-1.
“Although we knew our World Cup journey was at its end, I resolved to stand up for the country, the team and save as many goals as possible,” Kasiray said. “I lost count of how many goals I saved but that wasn’t important, I was focused on the job. Scoring goals in a World Cup gets results for your team and saving goals does the same.
“It gives you confidence and that was my mindset on the field,” she said.
Despite an outstanding performance, Kasiray said after the game that she felt down as her parents were not able to watch her play.
“I was kind of emotional that my parents were not here but I had to think positive and concentrate on the game,” she said.
Kasiray plans to continue playing football and urged young girls and women to start playing and getting involve in football programmes and developing their talents.
By ISAAC LIRI