Papua New Guinea international Nigel Dabingyaba has been training with Penang FA in the Malaysian Super League to get a head start on preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Stage 3 Qualifiers in March.

Dabingyaba made the move after a short stint in the New Zealand Premiership with Canterbury United Dragons FC, adding to the striker’s extensive football resume.

The forward represented the Papua New Guinea national team at last year’s OFC Nations Cup, which doubled as Stage 2 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Qualifier.

The Kapuls made history at the competition, reaching the final for the first time ever. Although the side narrowly lost to New Zealand in the penalty shoot-out, Papua New Guinea still qualified for Stage 3 along with winners New Zealand and Tahiti, Solomon Islands, Fiji and New Caledonia.

Dabingyaba’s performance in the regional competition caught the attention of foreign professional coaches, and led to a short stint with Western Pride FC in Australia.

Dabingyaba’s club career has followed a similar path to childhood neighbour and fellow Kapul Raymond Gunemba. Both were scouted for semi-professional Besta United FC before joining Hekari United, where the two heavily contributed to the side’s success in the 2014 OFC Champions League campaign.

In 2015 Gunemba and Dabingyaba both made the move to Lae City Dwellers, a club formed by Gunemba’s father, to represent their city and province. The young side allowed both players to step up as leaders and build a positive culture in the new team. Their success in the PNG’s National Soccer League earned the side a place at their first 2016 OFC Champions League. After another successful domestic season, the Dwellers will return to the 2017 edition of the competition.

Both Dabingyaba and Gunemba will re-join the Kapuls in March when they face Tahiti in a two-legged home and away match in hopes to continue to the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Stage Three Qualifiers.

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