By ISAAC LIRI
Only part of the Madang FC side travels to Auckland today for their OFC Champions League Group C matches which kicks off against Fiji’s Lautoka FC on Feb 25.
The club is sending half its contingent to New Zealand as some are yet to get visas for travel. The club expects to send the rest of the squad by Tuesday.
Madang FC board chairman Dr Miok Komolong confirmed that a group of 13 players and officials would depart today with the rest of the squad to join them later.
“Due to delays in getting NID cards and passports for our squad only 13 players and officials will have their NZ visas ready for them to fly out tomorrow,” Dr Komolong said.
Komolong said the club’s fundraising dinner last Saturday raised about K30,000 which would help cover some costs of their participation in the Champions League.
“The dinner fundraiser at Lamana Hotel was a great success,” Komolong said.
“We thank the Southern Strikers FC and the School Soccer Association Port Moresby for co-hosting it.
“Many corporate tables were sold to businesses and individuals which helped us raise about K30,000 after costs.
“However this amount is still inadequate for the stay and expenses in New Zealand so we are in discussions with some sponsors to assist,” he said.
Madang’s hopes of boosting its roster with the addition of three overseas-based players were dealt a blow with the unavailability of Patrick Aisa and Tommy Semmy, who are both committed to their New Zealand club Hamilton Wanderers.
“Tommy Semmy and Patrick Aisa are unavailable because their season is still running. However, we are hoping to have Roland Bala join the team,” Komolong said.
Madang, who struggled to a 2-2 draw with FC Momase last Saturday, have scratchy form heading to Auckland and coupled with their disjointed travel plans as well as their inability to acquire top talent for the Champions League, they are unlikely to improve on their 2017 performance.
Meanwhile, after five rounds of National Soccer League action, the semi-professional competition goes into a two week recess starting this weekend.
This was confirmed by NSL manager Leslie Babaga in a statement yesterday.
The competition resumes with round six fixtures on March 3.
“For NSL to avoid rescheduling of too many matches for washouts, we have decided to go for a break to cater for Lae City and Madang’s participation in the OFC Champions League,” Babaga said.
“The round six matches will resume on the March 3.
“With the regular season NSL fixtures in recess, this will allow for the washout matches to be played and for the competition to resume with everyone on equal footing.
“This weekend in Port Moresby the washout fixture from round one between the Southern Strikers and FC Momase will take place,” Babaga said. The other two washout matches that are yet to be played at dates yet to be confirmed are the round three match between the Strikers and PNG United and the round five match between the Strikers and Buang FC.
In related news, Buang FC are in mourning after the death of franchise manager John Makanda.
Makanda passed away last Saturday (Feb 11).
A friendly fixture this weekend between PNG United and FC Morobe Wawens in Lae will go ahead as scheduled.
Fixtures: Sat, Feb 25 – Madang v Lautoka; Wed, Feb 28 – Madang v Auckland; Sat, Mar 3 – Madang v AS Venus.
By ISAAC LIRI