By Jeremy Mogi – EM TV Sport, Port Moresby
The PNG National Women’s Football team has bowed out of the Olympic Qualifiers against New Zealand under dubious circumstances.
Players today were told that due to visa issues, they would not be travelling to New Zealand for tomorrow night’s second leg clash in their bid to book a ticket to Rio 2016.
Distraught Lae-based members of the team were at Jackson’s Domestic Airport, disappointed at the Papua New Guinea Football Association’s (PNGFA) perceived administrative failure.
After a crushing 7-1 loss on Saturday, the look of despondence on the faces of the women’s team was clearly evident.
Having all arrived from Lae on the first flight out of Nadzab, the group had had to wait almost seven hours before being booked into a hotel room in Port Moresby.
Prior to the first leg of the qualifier on Saturday, word from within the camp was that a positive belief was being instilled.
However the late arrival of women’s under 20 coach, Lisa Cole, who has been appointed to oversee preparations for the World Cup in November, added to an already desperate situation for the home side.
The venue used for the qualifiers, with the unavailability of Port Moresby’s new facility as well as the Sri Ignatius Kilage Stadium, was one of the big issues prior to Saturday’s match.
One week prior in Port Moresby, organiser for the U20 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Seamus Marten, had expressed bemusement at the choice of venue for such an important match, stating that Port Moresby’should have been given precedence.
By the start of the match, body language expressed by members of the host side denoted that things were still unsettled. Five yellows cards were received by the home side, and after the match Assistant Coach Rachel Wadunah, who was in charge of the squad in the absence of Head Coach Lisa Cole, had also expressed that preparation time had been lacking.
Calls are already being made for a complete overhaul of the PNGFA, with football circles around the country expressing outrage at the treatment given to the women.
These are dark days indeed for PNG football, with the reluctance of the PNGFA to issue an official statement regarding the debacle further compounding the humiliation of that 7-1 defeat.