Papua New Guinea’s national team traveled to Qatar today to compete in the World Cup qualifiers.
21 players plus the staff members departed from Port Moresby. Brazilian Marcos Gusmão will be the Kapuls coach.
The last time the Papua New Guinea national team played an official match was at the Pacific Games 2019, where they finished second in group B and lost the bronze medal match in the penalty shootout to Fiji. They were currently on a training camp in Port Moresby playing against local squads.
In 2016 Papua New Guinea reached the Nations Cup final for the first time; of the squad that will be in Doha 14 players are with the delegation, including the best player of that tournament – David Muta – who returns to the national team after 5 years. On that occasion the Kapuls led by Flemming Serritslev – who now leads the Fijian national team – lost the title to New Zealand on penalties after a brilliant 120 minute performance.
So we can conclude that PNG will send a very experienced team to Qatar, with the second-highest average age of the entire tournament – what could cost them dearly. The squad renewal seems to be at a lower stage than in the other nations.
The key players:
For the qualifiers, Papua New Guinea will have the duo of David Browne and Tommy Semmy available for the first time. The HJK striker is the first Papuan to play professionally in Europe and was in danger of missing the qualifiers because of a problem on renewing his passport, but everything has been sorted out and he will play for the first time with Tommy Semmy in the national team attack. Both were even called up for the Pacific Games in 2019 but none of them played in that tournament. At the 2016 Nations Cup Semmy shined in the PNG jersey and Browne was cut from the final list. Tommy Semmy comes from four seasons playing at a high level in New Zealand and has now gone to play in the Australian NPL.
The Kapuls squad still has names like Alwin and Felix Komolong, and the experienced Michael Foster and the top scorer Raymond Gunemba. You can check the complete list for Papua New Guinea by clicking here.
Marcos Gusmão arrived in PNG and implemented a new style of playing football in the team, very different from the fast transition game that the team was with Flemming Serritslev and the physical game with Bobby Morris. The Kapuls will try to retain the ball more in their games, taking advantage of the qualities of their midfielders like Emmanuel Simon.
Papua New Guinea is expected to play another friendly match as soon as it arrives in Qatar as the match against Vanuatu was cancelled for logistical reasons.
The Kapuls play their first match against New Zealand on 18th March.