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Farina: Games gold must be PNG aim.

Papua New Guinea will play host to the fifteenth edition of the Games – a multi-sport event featuring countries from the South Pacific – in three years’ time and it will offer the nation’s footballers the chance to put in a strong showing on home soil.

Defending champions New Caledonia showed how significant home advantage can prove when they took gold as hosts of the previous event last year and Farina says Papua New Guinea must look to follow in the francophones’ footsteps.

“I think there’s a good basis here with a young team,” he says. “Building towards the Pacific Games has got to be the priority.”

Whether Farina will still be around to oversee those preparations is unlikely as his contract with the Papua New Guinea Football Association – a stint that took in the 2011 Pacific Games and this year’s OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifier and Nations Cup – has come to an end.

But he has great belief in the potential of football in Oceania’s most populous nation and is confident his successor will have plenty of talent to work with.

“Football is definitely growing and getting better on all fronts,” he says of the development of the world game in Papua New Guinea. “It’s becoming more professional and the playing stocks are growing.”

Prior to the recent burst of activity, the Kundus had not been sighted on the international scene for nearly a decade and Farina says the lack of action has proved costly.

“The country had eight years without international football which is a long, long time for a national team. In the past 12 months that I’ve been here, the senior men’s team have played seven or eight full internationals in one year,” he explains.

“You imagine if you times that by eight, that’s what they’ve missed out on in terms of experience and quality international games. They have to continue playing games if they want to improve.”

Farina’s charges made their return to the global stage in Noumea last August and came close to making an immediate impact, missing out on a Pacific Games semi-final berth due only to goal difference.

It was a similar story this month in the Solomon Islands, where the Kundus paid for a sluggish start by failing to progress past the group stages and surrending the place in stage three of World Cup qualifying a spot in the top four would have brought.

“Our goal was definitely to get into the second round, like everyone else that came to the tournament,” Farina says. “But, unfortunately, eight doesn’t go into four. I think we had the side to do it but that first game, which wasn’t our best performance, basically killed us.”

Papua New Guinea fell to a 1-0 defeat to the hosts in their opening encounter before performing strongly against defending champions New Zealand to restrict the All Whites to a 2-1 win and then denying Fiji a place in the semi-finals with a 1-1 draw.

“I thought we got better as the tournament wore on but unfortunately we ran out of games,” Farina says. “In general, I’m very pleased with the team’s performance after 10 years of not being in the Nations Cup.”

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