Dream gone but PNG women hold their own in World Cup playoffs

Photo: Hannah Peters/FIFA

Papua New Guinea’s dreams of a first-ever Women’s football World Cup finals appearance was scuppered in Auckland when they went down to Panama in the play-offs.

The skilful Panamanians won 2-0 on Sunday through a goal in each half.

Their first goal was a spectacular effort when Marta Cox turned and executed a sensational bicycle kick that soared past PNG goalkeeper Betty Sam.

Oceania champions PNG were unlucky not to draw level in the 23rd minute when Ramona Padio was in with a chance but couldn’t get the ball past the Panama goalkeeper.

A goal from Riley Tanner after an hour secured the tie to the Central Americans.

PNG acquitted themselves well in a game that they entered as underdogs.

The Spencer Prior-coached side had lost their last four games, including a 9-0 thrashing by the Philippines in December so the score is more than respectable in that light.

Prior said while the result was not what they had worked towards, he was proud of the team’s effort in holding their end and denying Panama more goals who had no fewer than 36 attempts at the PNG goal.

“We had mixed emotions on the results but I was really proud of their effort,” the Englishman told PNG media.

First Oceania women’s league delayed

The inaugural Oceania Women’s Champions League tournament in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea has been rescheduled.

The tournament was originally due to be played on March 9-18 but has been moved to June 1-10.

The Oceania Football Confederation and the Papua New Guinea Football Association (PNGFA) have been working together on the logistics for the competition, and have been waiting for the visa process to be completed impacting on further travel arrangements.

Following consultation with the OFC Executive Committee the decision has been taken to postpone the competition until June.