By Jeremy Mogi – EM TV News, Port Moresby
The Telikom National Soccer League will kick off in three weeks and of the twelve teams participating, half are making their debut in season eleven of the competition.
While Hekari United has recruited both local and international players, Lae City has yet to announce a new squad, with Raymond Gunemba and Nigel Dabinyaba most likely to continue.
For newcomers PKA Rapatona and Erema FC, their aim is to be competitive and make up the numbers.
Only two clubs in the competition’s 11 year history have won the League.
Hekari had dominated for almost a decade, before a crushing defeat to madang in the semi-finals last season, had seen them stumble, and a new champion, Lae City Dwellers emerge.
But many other clubs have struggled.
Oro FC who had had so much promise, lasted for two seasons, and while Best have remained competitive, apart from a shock win over Hekari mid season, have failed to impress come the finals.
This season, half the franchise teams have either returned back to the fold or are on the verge of debuting.
Earlier, NSL Chairman, Isaac Lupari, had raised the concern of financial stability as being a major criteria for clubs to fulfill before the new season, and with the new licensing system in place, clubs are now more than ever required to raise their level of management and professionalism-both on and off the pitch.
Debate had been raging on social media over the proposed new, two tier format and whether it will raise the standard of football in the country, or not. But the argument by Lupari seems substantiated.
Too many times, the quality of players have been called into question, although the coaching approach may also be a factor, especially when the stronger teams were able to inflict huge defeats over their opponents.
The new season of the National Soccer League holds promise, whether it will deliver, remains to be seen.