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Farina factor fires Papua New Guinea

Along with New Zealand’s Neil Emblen, Farina is one of the most high-profile coaches at the tournament but has the edge over Emblen, still relatively new to the coaching game, in terms of experience. A top-class player himself, Australian Farina enjoyed a lengthy professional career in Europe before returning down under and moving into management.

Farina, who coached the Australian national team for a six-year spell from 1999, led Papua New Guinea at the 2011 Pacific Games and came agonisingly close to making the semi-finals, just being pipped by Tahiti on goal difference.

He will not want to miss out again and has the use of an exciting crop of players to achieve that goal, the most interesting to watch of whom could be midfield pair Emmanuel Simon and Nigel Dabinyaba, and New Zealand-based striker Alwin Komolong, who captained his country at the OFC U-20 Championship in April last year.

Farina, who spent part of his childhood in Papua New Guinea, says there is enough quality to work with and that players from the nation can make an impact internationally.

“Football is football, wherever in the world it is played,” he says. “In places like Europe and South America, they are much more competitive because they play fulltime professional football.

“I think my knowledge and experience of the teams in Oceania will put me in good stead to help Papua New Guinea. This country has the talent and the mental game to prove themselves in the region.”

Papua New Guinea had a mixed time of it without Farina in the previous Olympic qualifying tournament in 2008, being comfortably beaten by Solomon Islands, Fiji and New Zealand before putting seven goals past both Cook Islands and Vanuatu to wrap up with two wins. Farina will be targeting an improved showing in Taupo and has a good chance of at least making the semi-finals having been drawn in the three-team Group B with New Zealand and Tonga.

The top two sides from each pool progress to the semis, meaning Papua New Guinea are likely to need only one win to go through. They will fancy their chances of securing that victory against group underdogs Tonga while the match against New Zealand offers the opportunity to gain some revenge for the 5-2 defeat suffered at the hands of the Oly Whites four years ago.

Papua New Guinea open their campaign with the New Zealand clash on Friday at Owen Delany Park from 5pm local time.

As for all matches, tickets can be purchased from the gate and are priced at $10 for adults and $5 for teenagers/over-65s, while ages 12 and under can enter for free.

Papua New Guinea squad for OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifier

Roland WARISON (Besta United)
Joey KALA (Gigira Laitepo)

Roland BALA (Besta United)
Lee WABING (Besta United)
Daniel JOE (Hekari United)
Kila POLENA (Gigira Laitepo)
Japhet TIAMPO (Besta United)
Peter YANG (Besta United)

Eliud FUGRE (Eastern Stars)
Emmanuel SIMON (Besta United)
Wilson KILA (Hekari United)
Nigel DABINYABA (Hekari United)
Maximilion SENGUM (Besta United)
Wira WAMA (Hekari United)
Amon MEKI (Eastern Stars)

Jamal SEETO (Besta United)
Lap EMBEL (Eastern Stars)
Alwin KOMOLONG (New Zealand, Besta United)
Vanya MALAGIAN (Besta United)
Ronald SOHURU (Petro Souths)