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PNG players pushed to full potential

The squad leaves for New Zealand tomorrow and has spent the last week being taken through a series of gruelling, twice-daily sessions at the Bisini Football Complex.

But, while much emphais has been placed on fitness, the technical side of the game has not been neglected.

Former Auckland City striker Reg Davani has been a member of the coaching staff during the build-up and, if he has managed to pass on his eye for goal, strikers David Browne, Rodney Mobiha, Rhodly Mago and Alwin Komolong will not have any trouble finding the net.

Given the impressive run Papua New Guinea football is currently enjoying, it would be no surprise if their goals help to write another chapter in what is becoming a remarkable success story.

The country’s finest female players made it all the way to the final of the OFC Women’s Nations Cup last September and this was swiftly followed by Hekari United’s appearance at the FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates during December.

The Port Moresby-based side fell to a 3-0 defeat against hosts Al-Wahda but their mere appearance on such a prestigious stage will have made the nation’s young footballers realise a pathway to the top is in place for those who perform well enough.

“We have all been inspired by the success of Hekari,” John Davani says. “The boys are all geared up to take on their first opponent in a tough pool.”

That side will be title contenders Vanuatu on the tournament’s opening day, before Papua New Guinea go on to meet Fiji, American Samoa and New Zealand.

If Davani’s men can go one better than their country’s women’s side and take the title, they will book themselves a spot at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, which takes place in Mexico from June 18 to July 10.