One of the top Papua New Guinean defenders, Alwin Komolong, was recently signed by Ba to represent the Fijian team at OFC Champions League. It was surprising for the Oceania football community as the defender was announced as a new player of Lae City back in his country weeks before his move to Fiji. Despite the news, Komolong was only signed for the PNG National Soccer League – he was not committed to Lae to represent them in the regional tournament – which made his move to Ba possible, although there are still many questions if the player will return to his country to continue the season with Lae City or will stay with the Fijian outfit in the Vodafone Premier League.
There are still many questions around the PNG international: Komolong is with the Ba squad in Tahiti, but Ba have already played two matches in the group stage, with Komolong not featuring in either of the two games. Komolong was not even listed as a bench option by coach Ricki Herbert.
So, if the idea was to reinforce the squad for OFC Champions League with a player of the importance of Alwin Komolong, this idea has already been wasted. Ba lost their first two matches in the process – agaist Auckland City and, incredibly, to Lupe o le Soaga from Samoa – and will need a miracle to qualify for the knock-out stage of the competition.
Ba did not release a statement about the player or the terrible results that the team has had so far in the tournament. Komolong already trained with his teammates under the guidance of Ricki Herbert and seems completely fit for the games. It would be a strategy by Ba to rest its star-player, but not using Komolong in both matches does not seem to be very clever, and it suggests there are problems outside the pitch that are not allowing the Papua New Guinean international to represent Ba in the competition.
The future of the player that is one of the best defenders in the region, with plenty of experience in countries as United States, New Zealand and Germany, is still unclear. Ba is virtually eliminated from the competition, the presence of Komolong in their final pool match would be the last chance for him to be used by the Fijian side in the competition – whether this will be his last chance to play for Ba or not, only the next chapter of this story will be able to tell us.