UNITECH and the Besta-sponsored PNGFA U20 are the new teams in the fold of the nation’s premier soccer competition, the National Soccer League (NSL).
And there is more good news for Gelle Hills FC – the franchise is returning to the semi-professional soccer competition this season.
PNGFA senior vice-president and NSL board chairman John Kapi Natto announced yesterday that the three clubs completed the eight-team competition, which also retained Port Moresby-based defending champions Hekari United FC, Eastern Star FC, University Inter FC and Lae-based Gigira Laitepo Morobe FC.
Kapi-Natto, in an earlier interview, said Unitech would provide an alternate franchise for the Morobeens as they had a wider pool of untapped soccer talent in both the urban and rural areas.
The inclusion of the Besta franchise is part of the development process in preparation for regional tournaments, which include the 2011 Pacific Games in Noumea, New Caledonia and the World Cup qualifiers, which starts next year.
It would be proper to have a young pool of selected players playing elite competition so that they can really prepare for tougher competitions at regional and international levels.“Not all the players in the Besta team would represent the country as all teams involved in the NSL competition and other PNGFA-sanctioned tournament such as club championships would be under the national selectors’ magnifying glass,” Kapi Natto said.
Both Unitech and Gelle Hills were told in no certain terms to comply with stringent guidelines set by PNGFA for admission due to their poor past records of owing outstanding fees to the NSL.
The Lae-based Unitech and Gelle Hills replace Sepik FC and Madang’s Nabasa FC, while Welgris Highlanders have merged with the new-look CMSS Tigers FC.