Papua New Guinea defender Alwin Komolong is optimistic about the future for the Kapuls despite their exit at the semi-final stage of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Oceania Qualifiers.

PNG came up short in a thrilling 3-2 clash against Solomon Islands, who advance to face New Zealand in Wednesday’s final.

However, the centre-back, who scored the opening goal of their semi-final clash to give PNG a 24th minute lead, believes a blend of experience and youth is a positive sign for the Marcos Gusmao-coached side.

“I think the best is yet to come, to be honest,” says Komolong.

“We have a mix of old and young so it is good to get those kinds of games. It just helps to set a platform for the future games to come.”

Komolong, still only 27 himself, forms a defensive partnership for Papua New Guinea with his little brother, Felix, who is one of six players in the Kapuls squad for Qatar under the age of 26.

Whilst they came up short against Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea pushed their opponents all the way.

It was a similar tale against New Zealand, who only managed a 1-0 win with a quick free-kick routine in PNG’s opening game. After that, Komolong’s team defeated New Caledonia and Fiji in tough fixtures.

The imposing defender, whilst disappointed in failing to take their chances against Solomon Islands and getting another shot at New Zealand in the final, is clearly seeing the positives from the qualifying campaign.

“Back home everyone is pretty much hyped about us and I think we have put a lot of smiles on everyone’s faces back home,” he says.

“So we’ll just build from this and continue to work hard and come back stronger.”

With an eye on playing football with increased regularity, as restrictions surrounding Covid-19 begin to relax, the elder Komolong brother is clearly encouraged by the nation’s Qatar outing and hopeful about the future.

“We are looking forward to playing more international football and learning and growing from here.”