The 26-player squad representing Papua New Guinea at the upcoming OFC Women’s Nations Cup has now been announced. 

PNG come into the competition as pre-tournament favourites, being the highest-ranked nation involved.

The winning team in Fiji will earn the chance to play in the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Play-Off Tournament™ to be hosted in Auckland and Hamilton, New Zealand, from February 17-23 next year.

Head coach Nicola Demaine has picked a large squad for the tournament and hopes that will help them in their bid to qualify.

“The team is blended with youth and experienced to take PNG forward as it take strides going forward for the FIFA Women World Cup in 2023,” said Demaine, who has also named Yvonne Gabong as the team captain for the competition.

“To be named captain of the team is a great honour,” said Gabong.

“I am privileged to lead this team and I know this role comes with great responsibility and I will try to do my best to be a good lead to teammates and a great ambassador for our country in Fiji during the Nations Cup.”

PNG have been drawn in Group B alongside Tahiti and Vanuatu in Fiji and will get their OFC Women’s Nations Cup campaign underway against Vanuatu on July 14, before taking on Tahiti on July 17.

The top two teams from each of the three groups in Fiji will advance to the quarter-finals, alongside the two best-performing third-placed teams. The final takes place on Sunday, July 30 from the HFC Bank Stadium in Suva.

The full Papua New Guinea squad for the OFC Women’s Nations Cup is below:

Goalkeepers: Faith KASIRAY (NCD Hekari United FC), Fidelma WATPORE (Souths Hinamo FC), Betty SAM (Poro FC).

Defenders: Joeyln AIMI (Lahi Power FC), Lavina HOLA (Port Moresby Strikers FC), Margret JOSEPH (FC Genesis), Lucy MAINO (Port Moresby Strikers FC), Isabella NATERA (Tusbab Laidamon FC), Olivia UPAUPA (Tusbab Laidamon FC), Shalom WAIDA (NCD Hekari United FC), Serah WAIDA (NCD Hekari United FC), Gloria LAELI (NCD FC).

Midfielders: Yvonne GABONG (Port Moresby Strikers FC), Rayleen BAUELUA (Port Moresby Strikers FC), Kesai KOTOME (Bara FC), Rumona MORRIS (NCD Hekari United FC), Ramona PADIO (Port Moresby Strikers FC), Sandra BIRUM (Rainy Lae FC).

Forwards: Sonia EMBAHE (NCD Hekari United FC), Arnolda DOU (Port Moresby Strikers FC), Assaiso GOSSIE (Morobe Tulip FC), Meagen GUNEMBA (Poro FC), Marie KAIPU (NCD Hekari United FC), Charlie YANDIN (Bara FC), Sagude ZALE (Tusbab Laidamon FC), Georgina KAIKAS (NCD Hekari United FC).

Head coach: Nicola DEMAINE