Papua New Guinea have landed in Vanuatu ahead of the OFC U-20 Championship hoping to carry the trophy home.
Steering the ship is Peter Gunemba, who led his club Lae City Dwellers to two domestic titles in two years, making his debut as coach of a national team.
Gunemba believes winning the OFC U-20 Championship and qualifying for the World Cup is not an unrealistic target for his team.
“Our objective for this tournament it is to reach the final,” Gunemba said.
“We have the players to win the tournament. It comes down to them. If we go in there and play the way we want to, it is possible,” he added.
Captain Felix Komolong came very close with the senior team during the OFC Nations Cup earlier this year and a win in Vanuatu would go some way to dulling that painful memory.
After playing in all five OFC Nations Cup games for the PNG National team in June, Komolong is the most experienced player in the team, but the style of football played by his teammates proves that they are not solely relying on the defender for results.
“The strength of the team at the moment is the way the boys are playing together as a team,” Gunemba said.
“So far I am happy with the way our preparation has been going. We have had some friendly games in Lae and two in Port Moresby. I can see there is has been some improvement in our preparation,” he added.
As kick-off draws closer, Gunemba’s focus is on the opening match day of the tournament when they will take on New Caledonia.
‘’We have respect for all our opponents. They are good teams as well. The first game is always the hardest. It won’t be a walk over game and we will have to fight for every point.”
The OFC U-20 Championship is the Confederation’s premier youth competition and involves all 11 OFC Member Associations, with four competing in the Preliminary and eight in the Championship.
The 2016 tournament will be the 21st edition of this event which for the first time, offers two berths for Oceania at the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
With 12 titles, former OFC Member Association Australia holds the record for the most wins in this age-group, while New Zealand, Tahiti and Fiji have also claimed regional victories over the 40-year history of the competition.
The 2016 OFC U-20 Championship will be held in Port Vila and Luganville in Vanuatu from 3-17 September 2016.
For more on Papua New Guinea football visit www.pngfootball.com.pg