Kumuls have ability to win quarterfinal: Raminai


THE Papua New Guinea LNG Kumuls have the team and the ability to record their best ever World Cup performance on Sunday, says Sports vice-minister Wesley Raminai.
Raminai told the Kumuls at a farewell dinner after last Sunday’s 64-0 victory over US that the national side had now equalled the 2000 World Cup quarterfinals performance in England.
The Kumuls faced Wales that time but could not match the experience of their European rivals, missing out on a semifinal berth.
Seventeen years later the Kumuls now have the opportunity to meet another Northern hemisphere rival, England in Sunday’s quarterfinal in Melbourne.
“We’ve equalled our best World Cup performance by making the quarterfinal,” Raminai told the Kumuls.
“Let’s go one better by striving for a semifinal berth — we have the ability to do that.”
The dinner on Sunday night was also attended by Minister for Finance James Marape, Minister for Civil Aviation Alfred Manase, Minister for Police Jelta Wong, sponsors PNG LNG, National Gaming and Control Board, and others who had supported the Kumuls programme.
Raminai used the opportunity to thank the 2017 Rugby League World Cup organisers and sponsors Oil Search, National Capital District among others for the successful staging of the three pool matches in PNG.
“Congratulations to everyone because it was through great team work we have concluded a great World Cup experience in our beautiful country,” Raminai said.
“To the team, coach Michael Marum and your support Staff thank you for your wonderful performance against Wales, then Ireland and against the US.
“Now the more challenging games begin with the quarterfinal against England on Nov 19.
“The home crowd advantage won’t be there but Papua New Guineans are passionate about rugby league and we won’t be surprised if a good number find their way to Melbourne.
“But if they don’t, they will be there in spirit, urging you on from their homes as they follow the game on television and radio and the media in general.”
He said the sell-out games for the three matches was proof that the initiative to include PNG as co-host with Australia and New Zealand was a right decision.
“The Kumuls’ performances showed that we can be competitive with the right preparations,” Raminai said. He said Papua New Guinea and the rest of the Pacific can be competitive if given more opportunities to participate on the international stage.
Raminai said that further proof of the Pacific Islands’ ability was demonstrated in Tonga’s upset win over New Zealand last Saturday.
He said the O’Neill/Abel Government was keen to assist wherever possible to grow the game in PNG when the opportunity became available.
“Thank you everyone- PNG LNG Kumuls, visiting Teams, the World Cup 2017 organizers for providing the people of PNG a memorable World Cup experience.”