Thrashings mean soccer needs soul-searching

Normal, Sports

The National, Thursday 28th March 2013

 SOCCER’S silence on the embarrassing thrashings the national Under-20 side is reeling from in Fiji is deafening.

Yesterday’s 9-3 walloping by New Caledonia comes in the wake of 5-0 and 6-1 hidings in the Oceania U20 World Cup qualifiers. The results so far put to shame all the talk by the national association about development of the world game in the country. 

Heads must roll. First to go must be coach Wesley Waiwai who told the media in Fiji, PNG was only there to gain exposure. World Cup qualifiers are never the place teams seek exposure.

World Cup qualifiers are where nations send their best prepared team and players play their hearts to make their dream of playing in a World Cup come true.

Exposure, as Hekari’s John Kapi Natto so aptly pointed out this week, is gained by playing as many matches possible against  foreign opposition – whatever the cost.

That is the only yardstick to judge progress.

So we ask how many preparatory games did our U20 side play and against whom.

It is blatantly clear that simply having an U20 side play in the national league is not good enough. Even more alarming is what the results say about the standard of our national league. Can the national soccer body tell what the U20 results say about the standard of soccer in the country.

Papua New Guinea is the largest and most populous nation in the Oceania Confederation. Surely with over 200,000 people playing the game we can field a team that is competitive.

We must find out why we can’t hold our own against much smaller nations with fewer players. It is a time for soul-searching to find out how we can stand proud in soccer.

The entire development programme must be re-examined.

Those who appointed Waiwai and are responsible for development should do the honourable thing and join him when his head rolls.