Striker Tommy Semmy will be a late arrival in Qatar for Papua New Guinea’s opening FIFA World Cup qualifier against New Zealand’s All Whites.
Semmy (27) has opted to remain in Australia to play for his Altona Magic side in a National Premier League match against Dandenong Thunder, wanting to honour his commitments to the club.
The rest of the PNG national squad have already gathered in Doha, Qatar, where they will meet the All Whites in the opening game of Group B of the Oceania qualifying tournament.
Kick off is 3am on Saturday March 19.
Semmy: ‘We are in the pool of death’
Semmy told ABC’s Pacific Beat:
“The important thing is for the coach to see me playing here … I’m easy, ready to go.”
He believes PNG will need to take a point from New Zealand to make progress from Group B, which includes Fiji and New Caledonia.
“We are in the pool of death — we have to make sure we get a point in each game,” he said.
Semmy, who played from 2017-2021 for Northern League club Hamilton Wanderers, agreed a one-year contract with Altona Magic for this year but also trialled with A-League club Newcastle Jets.
When he didn’t land a contract with the Jets, he was keen to show what he could do for the Magicians who play in the second tier of Australian football. A teammate there is midfielder Vince Lia (36) who played 197 games for the Wellington Phoenix between 2007 and 2017.
Semmy looked dangerous in his debut, a 0-0 draw with Hume City, using his acceleration and close ball skills to take on defenders.
Video replay: Semmy’s debut
The following highlights show why Semmy could be a handful for New Zealand defenders if he gets the chance to run at them.
Meanwhile, Semmy says he’s happy to have joined the Victorian club.
He told PNG’s The National:
“It’s a great feeling just like when I was part of the Hamilton Wanderers in New Zealand and my recent stint with Newcastle Jets.
“New Zealand has become home to me, especially Hamilton.
“But I’m enjoying my career. Regardless of being in a different country, the feeling of football is just the same.
“My aim here is to help the team and do what we all love doing.
“I’d like to get into the A-League and advance further.”
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Countdown to All Whites v Papua New Guinea match: