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Semmy double secures PNG victory

After drawing the first friendly 1-1 on Thursday both sides went out in search of a victory in the second encounter on Sunday.
Fortune fell in Papua New Guinea’s favour as Hekari United player Tommy Semmy scored a brace to give his side a 2-1 victory.
PNG U-23 assistant coach Reginald Davani says the two matches have been incredibly beneficial to the team as they prepare for the XV Pacific Games in July.
“We only had four days training together as a team before getting on the plane to Honiara so we’re happy with the results that we managed to get,” Davani says.
“We could see that the players were pretty nervous before the first match. For a lot of them it’s their first time playing in Solomon Islands so it was a very new experience.”
Davani says with former All Whites coach Ricki Herbert at the helm, the coaching staff are looking to implement a new style that works for the team and the individual players, which he believes they saw over the two games.
“The first game was positive for us. But in the second one we thought that the players could push themselves further. This is like a pre-season for us, the players are still building their game fitness, so we thought they could push themselves a little faster, a little harder.
“There’s still a long way to go but it’s a positive result for us. It’s been a long time since Papua New Guinea has beaten Solomon Islands at this level so overall we’re happy with how we are progressing.”
Having started with a wider squad of 50 players, Davani says they are now working with a smaller contingent of 38 although only 23 travelled to Solomon Islands.
With the final list for the Pacific Games to be finalised by the end of April, he says there is still time for players in that wider group to insert themselves into the mix.
“There were a number of good players that we would have also liked to have taken on this tour, so I think it’s fair to say that there is still plenty of time for the non-travelling players to impress.
“There is a standard that we expect the players to perform to and that goes for everyone,” he says.
Davani also adds that Herbert has been great for the team and preparations, garnering instant respect from the players given his history of attending two FIFA World Cups and finishing the 2010 event unbeaten while in charge of New Zealand.
“The boys are responding well to Ricki, his presence has been really good and they respect what he has done in football,” he says.
“He’s trying to learn pidgen and he’s been using a few terms during trainings and I think that certainly helps because the players know the coach is trying to get to know them which is incredibly important.”
International Friendly results:
Thursday 26 April
Lawson Tama Stadium
Solomon Islands U-23 1-1 Papua New Guinea U-23
Sunday 29 April
Lawson Tama Stadium
Solomon Islands U-23 1-2 Papua New Guinea U-23

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