Among the clubs in contention to compete in the 2021 Papua New Guinea National Soccer League are the likes of Sepik FC, Tavur FC and Southern Strikers, three sides who have previously competed in the country’s highest footballing competition and will be welcomed back into the semi-pro fold ahead of the new season.
Although the club list is yet to be confirmed, Sepik, Tavur, and Southern Strikers have paid the necessary fees and are awaiting news that they will officially be returning to NSL action after years away from top-level competition.
Sepik FC last competed in the NSL way back in the 2008–09 season, with the club boasting several well-renowned players, including goalkeeper Ronald Warisan. The club finished 7th out of eight sides, but their return will be welcome news to fans in the East Sepik province of the country, who haven’t had a team in the NSL for many years.
Tavur FC last entered the competition as WNB Tavur in the 2013 edition, and was initially managed by Luke Muta, the father of brothers David Muta and Cyril Muta. The club, based in the West New Britain, one of the Island provinces of the nation, finished 7th out of eight sides back in 2013, but did not register for the following season. 2019 saw several teams hail from New Britain, including West Tribe, Greengold Liners, and the East New Britain pairing of Radazz FC and Gazelle FC, so there’s a chance we might see some of the more successful players from that campaign return, such as goalkeeper Alken Karapa, previously of West Tribe FC, whose goalkeeping heroics limited Hekari United to just two goals in the playoff quarter-finals of the 2019 season.
Finally, Southern Strikers – the most ‘recent’ of the returning teams. Southern Strikers debuted in the 2018 edition of the competition, finishing fifth and narrowly missing out on the playoffs. We also saw them in the 2019 edition, when they took part in the Southern Conference. However, the side had a less successful season, finishing bottom of the pool.
Elsewhere, as we have already reported, Lae City FC and Lae City Dwellers FC are both registered to compete, while there should be returns for Hekari United, Morobe Wawens, Tusbab Stallions, Star Mountain, and Gulf Komara.