Photo Credit: Pakawich Damrongkiattisak – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

In 2016, when the OFC Men’s Nations Cup was last held, Papua New Guinea came within a whisker of making history on home soil. 

After a late Nigel Dabinyaba goal had given them a dramatic semi-final victory over Solomon Islands, Flemming Serritslev’s side faced favourites New Zealand in the final at the Sir John Guise Stadium in Port Moresby.

In front of a passionate home crowd, Papua New Guinea took the defending champions to penalties, missing out in heartbreaking fashion, as the Kiwis clinched the title 4-2 in the shootout.

Eight years on and it’s a much-changed squad – as well as a new Head Coach – who will take to the field for their opening match in Suva this weekend against co-hosts Fiji.

Englishman Warren Moon is the man charged with attempting to go one better than 2016 and deliver Papua New Guinea its first ever Men’s Nations Cup title.

Such an achievement would match that of the women’s side, who are the reigning champions following their successful campaign in 2022, in the very same stadium where Moon’s player will kick-off on Sunday.

There is a wealth of experience in Papua New Guinea’s squad, with a number of players selected fresh from Hekari United’s OFC Men’s Champions League campaign in Tahiti last month, including Ati Kepo, Yagi Yasasa and Dave Tomare.

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA – MARCH 22: A view of the action during the FIFA Series 2024 Sri Lanka match between Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea at Race Course Ground on March 22, 2024 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. (Photo by Viraj Kothalawala/FFSL)

The team’s preparation has benefited from their involvement in the inaugural FIFA Series, held earlier this year. Papua New Guinea travelled to Sri Lanka, where they played two matches – a 0-0 draw with Sri Lanka before a 4-0 defeat to Central African Republic. Despite not registering a win, it proved valuable experience for the side against teams outside the OFC confederation.

In general, Moon has been happy with his side’s preparation ahead of the big kick-off.

“I think it’s probably been the best in my short time in charge in terms of the players’ physical preparation, getting a squad together – probably closer to the squad we were hoping to pick for the Sri Lanka trip and the Pacific Games.

“We’re really happy with the squad and we’re happy with our physical preparation and now we’re spending this final weekend leading up to the Fiji match working on our tactical plans,” Moon said.

Papua New Guinea have been drawn in Group B, alongside co-hosts Fiji, as well as Tahiti and Samoa in what should be a tightly contested affair. Despite the challenge, Moon is confident his side can make an impact in Suva.

“I think there’s an expectation or a desire in our group that we can be competitive and try and get out the group. Then from there, anything can happen, but you know for us, I think progress will be being super competitive in all three games.”

“It’s going to be a tough group and I think it’s going to be all about the details and the fine margins in all three matches.

With little to choose between the Group B teams, it will come down to the fine margins in deciding who will advance to the semi-final stage in Vanuatu.

“I think you know, that’s what we need to make sure, that when we get the rub of the green, we are switched on and we focus for the full 90 minutes because I feel like it’s going to be really tight,” he continued.

Papua New Guinea squad for the OFC Men’s Nations Cup 2024.


Ronald Warisan
Dave Tomare
Vagi Koniel


Raymond Diho
Daniel Joe
Felix Komolong
Alwin Komolong
Godfrey Haro
Kolu Kepo
Lennard Atterwell
Kenneth Arah


Solomon Rani
Troy Dobbin
Yagi Yasasa
Lee-Navu Faunt
Emmanuel Simon
Pala Paul
Jethro Yumange
Bruce Tiampo


Matu Ben
Nathaniel Eddie
Ati Kepo
Tommy Semmy