The road to Russia now remains a possibility, according to Papua New Guinea Men’s National Football team coach, Flemming Serritslev.
Following their recent victory over Tahiti, in their world cup qualifying campaign, PNG has an opportunity to further their chances at a berth at the World cup, provided, they defeat nemesis, the Solomon Islands.
Rarely a pessimist, Serritslev is again at the forefront of PNG’s continued success as the country embarks on another history-making.
Fielding perhaps one of the youngest senior sides ever to take the field for PNG, Serritslev had come under heavy scrutiny leading up to the first leg qualifier in Port Moresby.
Nine players that pulled out, another handful unavailable due to visa restrictions, and suspensions had placed the PNG team in an almost insurmountable task, and a 25th minute send off didn’t improve chances.
The subsequent loss had left PNG teetering on the brink of a downfall – that glorious ride to the final in last years nation cups, a long forgotten episode, for some, the away trip to Tahiti, was merely a formality, a prelude to PNG’s impending exit.
But the never say die attitude that encapsulates the PNG ethos would rise to the fore.
A 65th-minute header by Patrick Aisa, and of course who else but Raymond Gunemba would again create history.
While Tahiti would hit back deep into extra time – it did little to dampen the spirits of Serritslev’s charges as the visitors would against the odds – beat Tahiti.
Papua New Guinea will now face the Bonitos of Solomon Islands.
PNG’s recent history against the Solomon Islands is a good one.
A two-nil loss in February in Honiara in their first friendly in almost four years set the platform for back to back wins both away and in Port Moresby, as PNG looked to assert themselves.
The road to Russia remains a possibility – although the Solomon Islands will remain a challenging obstacle for PNG.
With the Solomon islands recently announcing arguably their strongest side yet, as they too fancy their chances – with the Lawson Tama stadium in Honiara laying the backdrop for what is expected to be a feisty encounter.
Both Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands have an equal opportunity for advancement. Both sides have had wins and losses against Tahiti – who have placed themselves in a precarious position, after conceding two goals against PNG last week.
Debate has ranged amongst supporters of the national team – does the euphoric feeling continue, or should it be a subdued atmosphere with PNG having yet to reach their final goal?
Papua New Guinea face the Solomon Islands in Honiara on the 5th of June – with nothing less than a win on their minds.