by Jeremy Mogi – EM TV Sports, Port Moresby
Telikom NSL Champions, Lae City Dwellers, are on the verge of being the second team, from Papua New Guinea, to take part in the Oceania Champions League competition in 2016.
In a correspondence to the club from the PNG Football Association, the Lae City Dwellers were informed of their entry into the competition pending confirmation from the Oceania Football Confederation.
Lae City’s success has been has been meteoric to say the least.
A debut in season 10 of the Telikom National Soccer had the club closely chase PNG heavyweights, Hekari, falling short of the league premiership
The club, brought a new standard to the league after the decade long dominance of heavyweights, Hekari, Lae City Dweller were able to pull crowds with an attractive brand of football. They proved a ful and difficult team to deal with, trashing a number of franchises, and coming close to defeating Hekari along the way, although a ruthless performance in both the semi-finals against FC Port Moresby and MAdang FC in the Grand final showed, they were the new kings of football.
Hekari for their part will again be part of the O’league, their top placed finish at the end of the 2015 season, guarantee them a spot, but after a dismal performance, the club is in a rebuilding phase.
After the grand-final, word was that Lae City’s Strikers in Nigel Dabinyaba and Raymond Gunemba had been set for a move outside the country, and while that is still pending, the pair could still feature internationally, for their home club.
The full confirmation of the club’s participation will still have to come from the Oceania Football Confederation, who run the OCL, and to date, PNGFA have been reluctant present any further information until that occurs. Lae City’s inclusion means an ascendancy of sorts for football in the country.
Long has it played second fiddle to rugby league, with the Hunters and Kumuls taking over much of the limelight, but now with the country’s top two clubs, slated to play in the pacific’s premier competition, there appears to be a lot more to aspire to in football in PNG.
The Oceania Champions League will be held in April next year, with a venue, yet to announced.