Thursday, December 23, 2010
IT was the smallest of cups which the PNG AFL U16 side brought back from Tonga yesterday – after belting the home side 51-7 in the final – but for the young men it represented the culmination of one year of hard work.
A tired but proud coach Walter Yangomina described the boys performance as something they had been building up to for most of year and was the result of the team playing in different tournaments.
“The boys were very good in Tonga.
“They’ve been together as a group for one year now at the AFL Academy and they’ve played at and lost to eventual Queensland state champions by 10 points so you could say they were battle-hardened and ready to take on any one in the Pacific,” Yangomina said.
The majority of the PNG U16s have been away from their families for most of the year and have practically played and trained with each other at the academy in Port Moresby and Yangomina was adamant this had been more then ample preparation for the Oceania.
Having defeated all Pacific Island opponents including Fiji, Nauru, New Zealand and the President’s side the junior Mosquitoes showed everyone they were heads and shoulders ahead of the rest.
But Yangomina said that the win that had the most meaning was the combined Pacific Island, including nine from PNG, which defeated the highly tauted Boomerangs, an ensemble Australia’s best junior talent.
“That win was massive. We got them by about five goals in the end which was a very healthy margin against an Australian side,” Yangomina said.
Last year when PNG was not able to attend the inaugural Oceania Cup in Fiji the combined Island team where crushed by 140 points but this year with the inclusion of PNG things turned out differently.
Yangomina said while the whole team played well he gave special mention to Gideon Simon, Theo Gavuri and Jason Soong who were at the heart of PNG’s unbeatable streak through the tournament.
Team captain Rau Kobale was pleased with his side’s ability to communicate and get the upper hand on all their opponents.
“Communication was great. The boys listened well and everything just flowed from there,” Kobale said.
The skipper from Western Highlands and Chimbu was blunt in his assessment of the opposition at the Oceania Cup.
“The other teams just couldn’t match us with our skills and speed.
“We kicked, passed, ran and tackled better.
“They were simply no match for us even though they were much bigger but we were better than them in everything else.”
Yangomina said the real challenge for the AFL juniors remained the Queensland state championships next year which he was confident of making the final of and even winning, such is his belief in the side’s progress thus far.
The champion team will now take a well-earned rest with their families for the Christmas and New Year before returning to the academy in February.