Sport: Tahiti look to extend qualifying lead against new-look PNG

12:04 pm on 23 March 2017

Papua New Guinea will field a new-look team when Stage 3 of Oceania's FIFA World Cup qualifying resumes tonight in Port Moresby, with the first of two matches against Tahiti.

Former captain David Muta and striker Tommy Semmy were unavailable for selection, while ten Hekari United players opted to turn their backs on the national team.

But Kapuls coach Flemming Serritslev has been able to call on Netherlands-based midfielder David Browne and Australian-based pair George Slefendorfas and former Central Coast Mariners defender Brad MacDonald, who were both born in PNG.

"We have many new players - I would say half of the squad is a new squad," he said.

"We had to say goodbye to ten Hekari players who didn't want to play for the national team anymore and of course we had to substitute them.

"But actually I believe we have found some very good substitutes, talented young players."

Papua New Guinea and Tahiti will face off against at Sir John Guise Stadium.

Papua New Guinea and Tahiti will face off against at Sir John Guise Stadium. Photo: OFc via Phototek

Papua New Guinea were keen observers in November when Group B rivals Tahiti and Solomon Islands recorded home victories against each other in the opening two rounds, with Tahiti atop the standings on goal difference.

Kapuls coach Flemming Serritslev said after a long wait the home side is relieved to be getting their own campaign underway.

"When you have been in a training camp for a long time the only thing you want to do is now to come to the match and come our and express what you have been working on for several days," he said.

Papua New Guinea coach Flemming Serritslev.

Papua New Guinea coach Flemming Serritslev. Photo: OFC via Phototek

"We know we are facing a very experienced Tahiti team who has almost all players from the Nations Cup available where we are standing with a squad with maybe less than 50 percent of the squad available now.

"But we have found very skilful and good players who are fitting very well into my playing style philosophy so I believe we will do a good result [on Thursday]," said the Danish coach.

"We should have an advantage by playing on home soil. we had in the Nations Cup some very good and big crowds and supporters that helped us a lot. I hope that will be the case again and for sure it will lift the team so it should be a small advantage for us."

Tahiti coach Ludovic Graugnard.

Tahiti coach Ludovic Graugnard. Photo: OFC via Phototek

Tahiti will be missing a few players, including experienced duo Jonathan and Lorenzo Tehau, but coach Ludovic Graugnard remains confident in his squad to get the job done.

"For us it's our last two games so we don't have a choice. If we hope to qualify for the final of Stage 3, we need a minimum of four points, but ideally six points from six - to win here and at home," he said.

"Having lost at the last minute to the Solomons in Honiara, it was a tough one for us, because we had a joker and now we don't have a joker anymore."

Tahiti's Teaonui Tehau scores the equalising goal against PNG.

Tahiti celebrate a goal during their 2-2 draw with PNG at last year's OFC Nations Cup. Photo: OFC via Phototek