Eight of Oceania’s top national teams will go head-to-head for regional supremacy at the 2016 OFC Nations Cup in Port Moresby later this month.
Less than six months later the spotlight will be back on the capital city of PNG, which will welcome 16 teams from around the world for the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
As part of PNG’s preparations to host the World Cup, the country’s U-20 women’s team will also meet World Cup-bound U-20 sides Japan and the United States in a tri-nations series, which will coincide with the Nations Cup at the end of May in Port Moresby.
This will be the first visit to PNG by a football team from either the United States or Japan and U-20 women’s coach Lisa Cole says the tournament will provide her side with important information in terms of what to expect later in the year.
“Playing against teams like Japan and USA will help us prepare because right now it’s hard to know what we don’t know.
“We have some creative players and good talent in our team but they have never been asked to compete at this level and they don’t know yet what the level is,” Cole says.
“It’s quite difficult for them to understand that they are capable of more and that’s something we have to help them with.
“They must learn to push themselves past what they perceive as their limits.”
The former goal-keeper, who has coached at national league level in the United States with Boston Breakers, believes hosting the U-20 Women’s World Cup will act as a catalyst for growth in the women’s game in PNG.
“For me this is just the jumping off point, the starting point for PNG women’s football,” she says.
“Just look at what Costa Rica and Thailand have done with their opportunities, first to host the U-20 Women’s World Cup and then a few years later representing their country at a senior Women’s World Cup.
“And that’s the challenge I put to the girls,” she adds.
“This is not just about this World Cup, but it’s more about where can we go after we had this experience.”
Cole says the tournament will be a big learning curve for her players and it’s important they will use the experience to improve.
“Our main target is to represent the country with pride, we are not going into the games expecting to win but we do expect to compete.
“That means we start the games well and we finish them well, and we should improve from game to game, we want to see progress,” she says.
The U-20 women’s tri-nations series will be held between 24 and 30 May, while the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup is scheduled to take place between 13 November and 3 December.
Papua New Guinea will compete in Group A alongside Brazil, Sweden and North Korea.
Story courtesy of OFC. For more on the information vistit www.oceaniafootball.com