In a move that will surprise and confuse many football fans in Papua New Guinea and across Oceania, Peter Gunemba, the manager sacked from Lae City FC in the middle of the 2019–20 National Soccer League season, looks to be rekindling his side, Lae City Dwellers, ahead of the 2021 NSL season, according to reports.
Following announcements in the local PNG press about the teams registered ahead of the upcoming season, many fans were bewildered to find that ‘Lae City FC’, the supposed six-time reigning champions, were listed alongside ‘Lae City Dwellers FC’ on the list of thirteen sides vying for the ten slots in this season’s competition.
According to the Post Courier and The National, the Gunemba-coached side appears to be separate to the Ian Chow-owned Lae City FC (currently coached by Bob Morris), although this throws into doubt which of the two sides has won which of the six titles currently claimed by Lae City, who were previously known as Toti City and Lae City Dwellers, and whether or not this is a brand new club and, if not, when Lae City Dwellers ceased to exist, and when Lae (Toti) City was born.
Either way, the club boasts several veteran players who have shown loyalty to coach Gunemba in the past, including his son Raymond Gunemba, Mosie Milubwa, defender Valentine Nelson, who finished last season at Morobe United and international goalkeeper Matheson Nasa.
With loyalties likely to be split between Chow’s Lae City and Gunemba’s Dwellers, could this be the opportunity for Hekari United to return to the top of Papua New Guinean football? The 2021 season isn’t far around the corner, so we’ll find out soon enough!