Who is Mathew David of Vitiaz United?

Mathew David of Vitiaz United has burst onto the Papua New Guinea National Soccer League scene in the last few weeks after shooting to second place in the league’s goalscoring charts following three goals against Morobe Wawens last weekend and four goals against Tusbab Stallions yesterday. But who exactly is this new goalscoring machine?

David was born on 6th April 1993, making him 27 years old. He was born in a small village called Baindoang in the Nawaeb District of the Morobe Province. He became interested in football at a very early age and excelled in his natural position of striker at a local tournament in Tubi at the age of 15, picking up the Golden Boot at that event.

After featuring in a local Christmas tournament in Pohom settlement, David was scouted by Bumayong United FC, one of the largest clubs in the LFA local association, and began to ply his trade at local level. That same year, he caught the attention of Peter Gunemba, who was in the process of founding Lae City Dwellers FC (now Lae City), and Gunemba signed David up as one of the original members of the squad which would become dominant domestically over the next five years.

Due to the wealth of talent that Lae City had at their disposal up front, David was pushed out to the left flank, where he appeared mainly as a substitute for the soon-to-be league champions. The first media coverage we have of the player comes from an article in The National ahead of the 2015 NSL Grand Final against Madang FC, where David was part of Lae’s substitute bench.

Mathew David in action against Morobe Wawens last weekend. Photo: PNGFA

David’s season with Lae in 2016 seems to have been a decent one: the player was selected in the club’s squad for the 2016 OFC Champions League, and he came off the bench in both of Lae’s defeats to New Zealand side Auckland City and the Solomon Warriors. David also scored one of Lae’s five goals in their thrashing of Rapatona in the 2016 NSL Playoffs, although David’s role at the club continued to be one of an impact substitute.

David’s role with Lae City grew as the 2017 season kicked-off. The winger played in all three of Lae’s OFC Champions League games in 2017, including starting for the first time in the 5-3 defeat to Western United, while there are local media reports of David again making an impact with goals off the bench domestically.

Ahead of the 2018 season, Lae coach Peter Gunemba retained David as part of the Lae squad despite strengthening elsewhere, indicating that Gunemba felt David was playing an important role at the club, but he only played a single minute in Lae’s Champions League group that year before playing the full ninety in the 11-0 defeat against Team Wellington in the quarter-finals. Domestically, David won the Golden Boot in the 2018 Momase region of the Besta FA Cup, which was a further sign of things to come.

Mathew David (#12) playing for Lae City against Team Wellington back in 2018. Photo: Radio NZ

David once again travelled with Lae to the 2019 OFC Champions League, but managed just over ninety total minutes in four games for the side, and was again sidelined domestically. Later in the season, he came off the bench to score the decisive goal against Morobe United in the 2019 NSL playoff semi-finals, which took the side to the final against Hekari United. While David had made an impact at Lae City as a ‘super-sub’ for most of his playing career, there was a sense that he wasn’t truly fulfilling his potential.

Having missed out on 2020 OFC Champions League action due to a knee injury, and following four years of failing to make a real breakthrough at the club, David finally made the move away from Lae in the mid-season transfer window to Vitiaz United, with the club promising to give him plenty of game time and to play him in his natural position as a striker. Since then, he has scored nine goals in four games and is just one goal away from being at the top of the league’s goalscoring charts.

In whatever country football is played, it’s nice to see squad players move to a different club and become breakout stars; it’s good for their career and it makes the game more three-dimensional. We very much look forward to seeing where David’s goals can take Vitiaz United, as the surprise package of this year’s NSL continues to win matches and stake a strong claim to the title of the domestic league in Papua New Guinea this year.

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