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Png in Fiji to learn

May 19
09:44 2014

We got beaten 12-1 by New Zealand two weeks ago, so we need more game time and exposure: wynton Rufer

ERONI TUINACEVA
SUVA
Papua New Guinea will be approaching the Oceania Football Confederation Under-20 Championships as their best possible learning opportunity.
Coach Wynton Rufer said PNG had a long way to go before they could measure up to the rest of the region.
“They don’t have a lot of experience and it’s going to take some years before we lift up the level the standard,”Rufer said.
“We got beaten 12-1 by New Zealand two weeks ago during our  friendly in Auckland, so we need more time. We haven’t been able to get our whole squad in yet because of visa problems to some of our players in New Zealand. It’s a starting process as well for the future for PNG Football.
“Women’s football in PNG is strong and they’re actually number two behind New Zealand. But the men are number seven. It’s going to be hard work trying to bring up the level. We have to work in the next few years to try and improve that.”
The former New Zealand football international believed the key was motivating the team to lift their game.
“Most of these boys have never been out of PNG and when we took them to New Zealand they experienced serious culture shock. They weren’t used to the food, the surroundings and the way of life and the same thing is happening here.
“They’re distracted by the sights and surroundings and they’re not really focused on the competition.
“As far as the tournament is concerned, they’re just happy to be here and to be playing.
“We are trying to get them to change that attitude and mindset and acquire that winning mentality.”
Rufer, who has the distinction of being named the Oceania Player of the 20th Century, became involved with Papua New Guinea FA through the OFC coach-mentor programme earlier this year.
“I’ve been working with OFC for many years as a Football Ambassador and travelling through the islands.
“I am involved with Papua New Guinea helping out their national team.
“Oceania Football has a coach-mentor programme throughout the islands and I’m part of that programme as well.
“Also helping me out with Papua New Guinea is Milan Miric, who’s from Australia and he’s helping out as well as one of the coach-mentors.
“We’re helping out the PNG Under-19 team as well as the PNG national team for the Pacific Games which we’ll be hosting next year. But for now we’re helping the Under-20 team.”
Seventeen-year old Felix Komolong will captain the team.
“It’s a great honour to represent my country.
“I have never captained any team before in my life.
“I was vice-captain for the Under-17 team in Vanuatu but this is another level,”Komolong said.
“It’s a great experience getting to be here and we’ll just take it game by game.”
His elder brother, Alwin Komolong captained the U20 team in 2013 and is studying at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in the United States.
Rufer, 51, made a name for himself with top German club Werdes Bremen in the Bundesliga from 1989 to 1995 and won six titles within that time.
The Champions League top scorer for 1993 was voted the Oceania Player of the Year in 1989, 1990 and 1992.
He received the Oceania Player of the Century Honor after retiring in 2001.
Meanwhile, the OFC Under-20 Championships will start this Friday at the ANZ Stadium, Suva, with Fiji and American Samoa playing.
Papua New Guinea will play their first match against American Samoa at 5pm on May 25.
Feedback:  eroni.tuinaceva@fijisun.com.fj

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