By HENRY MORABANG
WITH the major objective of winning a gold medal at next year’s Pacific Games in Noumea, New Caledonia, the PNG Football Association (PNGFA) has unveiled its preparation plan, including a hectic international schedule for this year.
PNGFA acting president John Kapi-Natto said the proposed calendar for this year would be tight and crucial as PNG prepares for the Pacific Games.
He said PNGFA would select two men’s training squads from the nine franchise teams – five in Port Moresby and four in Lae and Madang.
“There are a lot of quality players and it would be more reasonable to have two squads to select the final men’s squad. The teams will be called PNG Black and PNG Gold comprising of selected players from the NSL teams,” he said.
Kapi-Natto said PNGFA had to select the best men’s team to aim for a gold medal in New Caledonia, and with the high standard of football at the semi-professional level, the NSL, PNG could achieve their ambition.
He said pending the PNGFA executive committee meeting on Saturday, a five-man selection panel would be tasked to select 30 players for the respective Black and Gold teams.
Also high on the agenda would be the appointment of national coaches for men’s and the women’s teams for the Pacific Games.
Kapi-Natto said the training squad would play two home-and-away games before the final team was selected, and would be put to test in gruelling international fixtures involving North Queensland Fury from Australia, an Indonesia side and friendly matches against Melanesian brothers, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji.
The acting president said the international fixtures penciled for this year are:
n North Queensland Fury vs PNG – April/May
n Wantok Cup – Tri-Nation Soccer challenge – Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and PNG – July
n PNG President’s Xl vs Solomon Island – September
n Pesipura from Indonesia vs PNG – TBA
n PNG vs Fiji and Vanuatu – (still under negotiation)
Kapi-Natto said it was a must that PNG play as many international matches as part and parcel of the PNG Sports Federation requirements to attend a sanctioned event such as Pacific Games.