By PATRICIA KEAMO
PAPUA New Guinea Football Association general secretary Pius Letenge says there was no bias in the selection of the national men’s squad to the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers in Qatar.
His comments came after concerns were raised by football followers on social media and mainstream media on the integrity of the selection process.
“The selection of the 30-man squad was not based on the number of players in a club nor position of the clubs on the National Soccer League ladders,” Letenge told The National.
“The selection process was purely based on the criteria that was set by the technical and coaching team.”
When asked about the specifics of the criteria, Letenge said the association’s technical department would disclose it soon.
“I can only inform you that there were several stages that selectors had to go through and assess individual players before they were selected,” he said.
“A thorough selection process was done to pick the players in the squad.
“Every player who was invited to the original train-on squad were potential footballers.
“The association assembled a 60-man squad in the beginning.
“But unfortunately, there are only 30 spots available.
“After the selection process, the selectors could only come up with a mixture of youth and experienced players to form the squad.
“This is a senior men’s tournament and we must have a good mixture in the team, but that is now up to the head coach (Marcos Gusmao) to decide who will make the final cut.
“We want to take everyone to the qualifiers.
“But to meet the tournament requirement, we decided on a 30-man squad.
“For the final squad, the head coach will decide whether to re-consider players who were omitted.”
Meanwhile, the association’s technical department said players were assessed in the areas of technical, tactical, athletic and mental capabilities.
“This formed the football part of the selection criteria used to select and trim the squad to 30,” technical boss Paul Isorua said.
“Off-field conduct and Covid-19 requirements were also undertaken and screened to ensure that all players in the final travelling team fully met the criteria to qualify to travel abroad in these ‘new normal’ times.”
By PATRICIA KEAMO