As their first match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Qualifiers – OFC Stage 3 approaches for Papua New Guinea, George Slefendorfas is eager to stand with the Kapuls in their two matches against Tahiti in March.
The Melbourne-based striker, born of Lithuanian and Papua New Guinean decent, sat on the edge of his seat as he watched his former teammates make history at last year’s OFC Nations Cup, progressing to the final of the competition for the first time in 40 years of trying.
“I watched it all. Had to watch it live obviously,” he said.
“It was definitely very touching coming from the status of the boys, where they’ve come from, to where they’re going.
“For the future of these boys, if they can stick it out together and bring other experienced guys in, I’m sure we can go a long way.”
After a stint with the national team back in 2014 under coach Wynton Rufer, the one-cap Kapul is back training with the squad under current coach Flemming Seritslev.
Slefendorfas has high hopes of making Seritlev’s final 23-man squad, which will be announced in mid-February, and said it would be honour and an opportunity he would grab with both hands.
“I’m here to win and train as hard as I can.”
Seeing the development in football across the Oceania region has given Slefendorfas a high respect for teams like Tahiti, but the 29-year-old is confident that Papua New Guinea have what it takes to earn the three points.
“From what I’ve heard and what I’ve seen, all these island teams are incredibly talented,” he said.
“I feel if all the boys can come together, stick to our structure and the way we play I can see us winning it. If we stay true and disciplined, I’m sure we can go all the way.”
Tahiti and Papua New Guinea will meet for their first clash of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Qualifiers – OFC Stage 3 in Port Moresby on 23 March before both teams travel to Tahiti for the second leg in Papeete on 28 March.