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MNC Cup a learning curve for PNG

The team played their third and final match of the MNC Cup 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia on Sunday, going down 3-1 to Laos. PNG’s sole goal of the competition going to midfielder Ronald Conn after he latched on to a cross from substitute Jamal Seeto.
PNG U-23 lost 1-0 to Maldives in their opening match of the competition before being taken apart by their hosts Indonesia 6-0.
Indonesia won the tournament, taking home the US$50,000 prize. Laos finished second followed by Maldives and Papua New Guinea respectively.
Promising young player Maximillion Sengum said the tournament has been a real eye-opener for him and his teammates.
Having progressed through the Papua New Guinea Football Association’s (PNGFA) youth development programme he has appeared for the national side in the U-20 and U-23 teams that played in OFC tournaments in 2010 and 2012.
“The New Zealanders are bigger than us and the Asians play a faster game, but they are not too far away from us,” he said.
“It’s not that we are not confident of holding the ball under pressure, it’s just that we don’t play this style of football in PNG.
“We have the skills to match them but because we don’t play regular matches at this level we are not accustomed to making quick decisions in general play.”
Sengum admitted there were several areas of weakness identified during the tournament that the side can now work on, and personally he will be looking at moving towards the ball more instead of waiting, and looking for space.
Watching from the stands for PNG’s matches against Indonesia and Laos was former international goalkeeper Adam Wangu, now a resident in Jakarta, who said the side performed to expectations against three quality nations from the Asia Football Confederation (AFC).
“The boys were competitive and showed glimpses of the fighting spirit Papua New Guineans are renowned for, but to be realistic we don’t play enough at this level to know how to handle these teams,” Wangu said.
“It’s not easy to play at this level especially against this very good Indonesian team which is well financed and have been together for the past five years.
“Losing 6-0 is not bad when you consider they beat the South Korean senior team and are deemed to be better than their senior team. This team is also preparing for the South East Games and are the pride and joy of the soccer-mad Indonesian people,” he added.
Wangu, who played in the 1987 gold-medal winning South Pacific Games side said he was proud of the team’s never-give-up attitude which continued to attack despite facing better structured teams.
He said with this side likely to make up the team for the 2015 South Pacific Games, he issued a challenge for them to repeat the 1987 national team’s performance.
The MNC Cup 2013 was hosted by the Indonesia FA from 21-24 November and featured four sides, Indonesia, Laos and Maldives from AFC and Papua New Guinea from OFC.
All matches were played at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, which has a capacity of 88,000.
For more on Papua New Guinea football go to www.pngfootball.com.pg

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