The final group match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Qualifiers – OFC Stage 3 pits Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands against each other in Port Moresby and both teams will be throwing their all at it – with Tahiti keeping a close watch on the results from afar.
After Solomon Islands triumphed 3-2 in an electrifying home encounter at Lawson Tama Stadium on Friday, Papua New Guinea now have to pull out all the stops to top the group.
At a minimum, the side needs to win by five goals. This would put all three Group B nations on six points but give Papua New Guinea an advantage based on the goals scored.
While it may seem like an impossible barrier to overcome, Papua New Guinea coach Flemming Serritslev has every confidence his side has the capacity, and desire, to pull it off.
“Of course it’s important to win, it’s important to win every match,” he said.
“Should we go on it will require a very big win against Solomon Islands on Tuesday in Port Moresby. We’ll do our best to do it, but we still know we are facing a good team.
“We need at least five goals, and I think we can do it – of course we can.”
What will also be on the minds of the Papua New Guinea camp is while they need to win big, their opponents would progress with just a draw.
However should Solomon Islands slip up they open the door not only for Papua New Guinea, but for Tahiti to retain their place at the top of the table and progress to the Stage 3 final.
Solomon Islands coach Felipe Vega Arango Alonso is well aware of what is at stake and while there is less pressure on his side, he knows they must remain wary of an incredibly good side.
“It’s going to be tough – the same thing I said about the first match – it’s going to be tough,” Vega Arango Alonso said.
“They are going to prepare because they have their pride and they want to win.
“Now it is a completely different ball game because the tie is good for us, so we don’t need to take that many risks. They are the ones that need to take risks.”
The winner of Group B will progress to the OFC Stage 3 final where they will meet New Zealand in a home-and-away series in which the winner will progress to the Intercontinental Play-Off with the fifth-placed nation from South America.
Papua New Guinea vs. Solomon Islands
13 June 2017
PNG Football Stadium
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Referee: Jumpei IIDA (JPN)
Assistant Referee 1: Toru SAGARA (JPN)
Assistant Referee 2: Akane YAGI (JPN)
Fourth Official: Minoru TOJO (JPN)
Papua New Guinea
Vital Statistics: Papua New Guinea need a minimum of five unanswered goals against Solomon Islands on Tuesday if they wish to progress to the OFC Stage 3 final – which would be the closest they have come to the World Cup yet should they manage it.
The Players: Alwin and Felix Komolong continue to be one of the strongest central defensive pairings in the region. They track well both in and out of possession and are strong with the ball at foot and in aerial situations.
Coach Quote: “It’s important to recover well, we have a lot of tired legs. We’ll do our best but we also know we are facing a very strong team.
Team List: 1. Kusuga KOMOLONG (GK), 2. Abel REDENUT, 3. Richard ALOIS, 4. Alwin KOMOLONG, 5. Felix KOMOLONG, 6. Patrick AISA, 7. Raymond GUNEMBA, 8. Michael FOSTER, 9. Nigel DABINYABA, 10. David BROWNE, 13. Roland BALA, 14. Emmanuel SIMON, 15. Phillip STEVEN, 16. Orbert BIKA, 17. Jacob SABUA, 18. Stahl GUBAG, 19. Clement WILLIS, 21. Ila DAVID (GK), 22. Donovan MURRAY, 23. Ronald WARISAN (GK), 24. Luke KAPRANGI (GK)
Coach: Flemming Serritslev (DEN)
Vital Statistics: Henry Fa’arodo will be back in action for the national team after serving his one-match suspension and bringing the experience of more than 50 international appearances along with him – the most of any member of the current squad.
The Players: Bringing in the youthful presence of Jerry Donga and Atkin Kaua to complement veteran strikers Benji Totori and James Naka was an inspired move. The touches from the more experienced duo show they still have plenty to offer, especially when combining with these two up-and-comers.
Coach Quote: “They are going to make adjustments because they are a well-coached team, they have good players. We are going to have to make some adjustments too. The only thing that that worries me is let’s see how we recover because we only have three days.”
Team List: 1. Phillip MANGO (GK), 2. Joachim WAROI, 3. Robert LAUA, 4. Nelson SALE, 5. Haddis AENGARI, 7. Jerry DONGA, 8. Timothy BAKALE, 9. Benjamin TOTORI, 10. Micah LEA’ALAFA, 11. Gagame FENI 12. Zantas KABINI (GK), 13. Emmanuel POILA, 14. Thomas AMASIA, 17. Atkin KAUA, 18. Obed OFEA, 20. James NAKA, 21. Richard HIROMANA, 22. Henry FA’ARODO