Experienced Papua New Guinea defender Alwin Komolong says his team will be “buzzing to play” when they line up against New Zealand’s All Whites in their opening group game at the Oceania FIFA World Cup qualifying tournament.
“New Zealand first up, we know we need a result,” he told YouTube channel DNQ Football.
Komolong (27) is expected to anchor the PNG defence with his brother Felix (25) in the March 19 match to be played at the Qatar SC Stadium, Doha.
In the interview, Komolong says it’s been difficult that PNG have not played a competitive match for more than two years but they will welcome the “top notch” facilities in Qatar.
Main photo: Komolong playing for PNG against Solomon Islands. Image: Phototek.
Will VAR and goal-line technology be used?
Komolong suggests VAR and goal-line technology might be used for the first time at the Oceania qualifiers.
It was installed at the Qatar stadia for the FIFA Arab Cup tournament and local organisers are looking to use the Oceania tournament as a test of their facilities ahead of the World Cup finals in November.
As for PNG’s chances at the tournament, the one-time Waitakere City player says Group B will be tough, with New Zealand favourites.
He said New Caledonia were always difficult opponents and he said Fiji would have the benefit of captain talisman Roy Krishna.
Komolong said Krishna was the trickiest player he had marked within Oceania, saying the 34-year-old former Wellington Phoenix marksman was “deceptively strong” and “feisty”.
Coach Marcos Gusmao: ‘We’re not afraid of New Zealand’
Brazilian coach Marcos Gusmao is full of confidence after his side’s two warm-up wins in Qatar.
The Kapuls beat Al Matar FC 5-3, with a hat-trick from winger Stahl Gubag and Godfrey Haro (2). Two days earlier, they beat Az Zubara 5-0, with goals from Emmanuel Simon, Raymond Gunemba (2), Pala Paul and Gubag.
“Midfield and wingers are our combined strength,” coach Gusmao told Postcourier.com.
“We are not afraid of New Zealand.
“I am 100 per cent sure the team will do something positive in Qatar.”
After his team’s second warm-up win, Gusmao told Loop.com:
“It’s two out of two which is a positive result for the team as it keeps the boys’ mind in focus ahead of their first game against New Zealand.”
Tommy Semmy joins squad in Qatar
Striker Tommy Semmy has joined the PNG squad in Qatar after delaying his departure from Australia so he could play a National Premier League fixture for his Altona Magic club.
Semmy (27) played for Hamilton Wanderers in the Northern League and National League before heading to Australia last year for a trial with the Newcastle Jets and a one-year contract with the Magicians.
Komolong: ‘We’ll bring our A game’
Fixtures for Group B are:
(Dates/times are NZT)
Countdown to New Zealand’s opening game:
Saturday March 19 (3am): Papua New Guinea v New Zealand (Qatar SC Stadium, Doha)
Saturday March 19 (6am): New Caledonia v Fiji
Tuesday March 22 (3am): Papua New Guinea v New Caledonia
Tuesday March 22 (6am): New Zealand v Fiji (Qatar SC Stadium, Doha)
Friday March 25 (6am): New Zealand v New Caledonia (Qatar SC Stadium, Doha)
Friday March 25 (6am): Fiji v Papua New Guinea