By PARKER TAMBUA
LAE City have expressed disappointment at letting Papua New Guinea down after they failed to reach the quarterfinals of the Oceania Football Confederation Champions League.
The Lae Biscuit Company-sponsored side headed into the final day of pool matches as group leaders last Friday, knowing that only a draw would be enough to reach the last eight.
But Malampa Revivors had other ideas as forward Andre Batick scored a hat-trick for a 3-0 victory to ensure the hosts finished as group winners and proceed to the knockouts.
City coach Peter Gunemba told The National this week that his men went to Vanuatu with the aim of topping the group and securing a home quarterfinal.
“We took it one game at a time from the first match against the Henderson Eels,” he said.
“We played well in the first game.
“But unfortunately, we gave away some fair penalties which saw us draw the match.
“We were dominant in the second game against Lautoka. We won a lot of praise from football followers in the region.”
Gunemba brushed aside claims that his side were distracted by the 7-0 win over Fiji’s Lautoka.
“That’s football and unfortunately, the last game against Malampa did not turn out the way I had expected,” he said.
“We prepared really well. We knew what we were up against.
“We planned well but we just couldn’t pull it off.”
Gunemba said his squad took a day off on Tuesday after they arrived from Vanuatu on Monday and resumed training on Wednesday. He said their focus was now on their title defence in the Kumul Petroleum National Soccer League.
Gunemba said South American imports Gustine Icaza Vergara and Abdias Aguirre would most likely complete the domestic season with City before they return to their home country of Ecuador.
By PARKER TAMBUA