PNG to face NZ, Vanuatu


THE Papua New Guinea men’s national soccer team have been grouped with New Zealand Under-23s, Vanuatu, Samoa and Tonga for the Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa, next month.
The men’s and women’s draws were released yesterday by the Pacific Games Office in Apia.
The PNG women’s national team are grouped with the Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Cook Islands and Vanuatu.
There are only two groups in both divisions.
The teams will play a round-robin in the group phase, with the top-placed teams in each group playing for gold, and the runners-up facing off for bronze.
PNG, who are ranked 169 in the world, will look at New Zealand and Vanuatu (166) as their main threats in Group A.
But coach Bob Morris is confident of the Kapuls springing some upsets in Apia.
“I believe we can match Vanuatu and New Zealand (whose national men’s team are ranked 119),” Morris told The National yesterday.
“We just need good support. We need our followers to get behind us leading up to the Games and throughout the tournament itself.
Morris said they were right on schedule with their preparations.
“However, my proposal for friendlies against New Caledonia was cancelled last week due to unknown reasons,” he said.
“I’m hoping to have at least a friendly against the Solomon Islands or Vanuatu. This would be a bonus for the team.”
Morris said spearheading the Kapuls’ campaign would be David Browne (Auckland City), Tommy Semmy (Hamilton Wanderers), and the Komolong brothers — Alwin (Fortuna Cologne) and Felix (United States). “These are our overseas-based players. David and Tommy should lead our attack with Raymond Gunemba, Nigel Dabinyaba, and the Kepo brothers — Kolu and Atti,” he said.
“We have experience in the midfield in the likes of Emmanuel Simon, Greg Togubai, Jacob Sabua and David Muta, who is nursing and injury but should be fit for the Pacific Games.”
Browne and the Komolong brothers arrived in the country on Sunday, with Semmy yet to join the squad.
It is expected that Hekari United veteran midfielder Muta will captain the side at the Games.