By PATRICIA KEAMO
LAE City head coach Bob Morris has confirmed that recruit Pala Paul will not play in Saturday’s national playoff against Hekari United due to issues surrounding his contract.
The winners of the playoff will represent Papua New Guinea in the upcoming Oceania Football Confederation Champions League.
It is understood that City and Gulf Komara are yet to reach an agreement on the midfielder’s release from his two-year contract, which will end on July 17, 2023.
Meanwhile, PNG Football Association (PNGFA) general secretary Pius Letenge told The National yesterday that Komara would make the final call on Pala’s immediate playing future as he was still contracted to the side.
Morris claimed that City had sought Paul’s release which Komara refused, given the youngster had not followed due process before joining the Morobe-based franchise.
“We sought his release, but they did not want to release him because he did not tell them before coming to Lae City,” Morris told this paper.
“It’s the offseason and many players are moving clubs.”
Komara’s management said coach David Aua had nurtured Paul over the last three years as well as an additional two years under then Erema.
“At no stage did City’s management make any contact whatsoever with Komara before Paul’s move to their camp,” Aua said.
“In fact, I was the one who contacted City team manager Edris Kumbruwah who said that he was of the understanding that Paul’s transfer had been mutually agreed upon.
“Why was there no communication at the very least from the very beginning?
“I’m certain that an agreement could have been reached in the best interest of the player.
“There was a similar case in 2020 when Hekari goalkeeper Leslie Kalai came to Komara asking to play with us.
“We approached Hekari formally and were advised that Hekari had invested years into Leslie and had an existing two-year contract, so they would release him after he had served his contract.
“That we respected it and told Leslie to return to Hekari.
“That is the right and respectful way to deal with this player transfers.
“For now, Paul will have to return to complete his contract or do the right thing by exiting properly since,” said Komara coach Aua yesterday.
Letenge confirmed that if City were to field Paul, he would be deemed as an illegal player and City would be disqualified on technical grounds under the competition’s rules.
By PATRICIA KEAMO