International experience is on the Papua New Guinea U-20 captain Yvonne Gabong’s side as the kick-off for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup on home soil in November nears.
Gabong starting playing football at age nine, and made her international debut when she was selected for the Papua New Guinea U-17 squad to travel to New Zealand at age 13. She advanced on to the senior women’s side at only 14 years old, and played in her country’s top side when they won the 2015 Pacific Games on home soil.
Gabong is currently on a tour of the United States with her fellow PNG U-20 women’s teammates playing seven scheduled matches against university teams to prepare them for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
The team has had mixed results in the tour so far, winning one, drawing one and losing three of the five games they have played. Their most recent match against Saint Francis University was only lost late in the second half, ending the game at 3-2.
PNG U-20 coach Lisa Cole has noticed a significant improvement in the players throughout the tour and is confident that they will bring quality football to the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
“There have been lots of positives for the team. Fitness is improving but still needs work with two goals coming late in the first half,” she said.
“We created some great opportunities and I’m pleased with the progress we are making. These games have been valuable as we continue to prepare for the World Cup,” she added.
Earlier this year, Gabong showed dominance on the field when the PNG U-20 Women’s team took on the USA and Japan U-20 Women’s teams in a Tri Nations World Cup friendly at the opening of the 2016 OFC Nations Cup in Port Moresby.
With players like Gabong leading the way, younger members of the squad are learning to play as a team and gaining the experience needed for PNG to be competitive in Port Moresby in November.
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