BY ROMULUS HUTA
THE PNG national under-16 soccer boys landed in Honiara on Wednesday afternoon with high hopes ahead of Sunday’s kick-off of the 2018 OFC Under-16 Championship at Lawson Tama Stadium.
Led by Anthony Pakatoka as head coach, the former PNG national representative has brought with him a total of 20 playing members plus other accompanying team officials.
“We are excited to be here and we look forward to participate in the tournament,” Mr. Pakatoka said, upon arrival at the Henderson Airport.
PNG is placed in Pool A and will go against host nation Solomon Islands, New Zealand and Vanuatu in the group stage competition.
“Solomon Islands I think, they have prepared well, so as Vanuatu and New Zealand, they are a very high quality side.
“We would expect very stiff challenges from them. I think it would be a big task for us to meet them as we head on,” Mr. Pakatoka added.
The PNG youngsters will have three days of training before kicking off their campaign opener against Solomon Islands at 3pm on Sunday.
“The first game will be tough because we are playing against the host nation.
“They are a very good side. We will do our best but Solomon Islands teams are always well prepared. We will try our best to challenge them.”
Following Sunday’s contest, Vanuatu awaits PNG for their second fixture set for Wednesday while their final pool match is against New Zealand next Saturday.
“Our aim is to get past the pool stage and qualify into the semi-finals, and maybe, who knows, get a shot for the finals to earn a place at the world cup,” Pakatoka said.