Sport: PNG, Solomon Islands playing to keep World Cup hopes alive

11:49 am on 9 June 2017

Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands put their Football World Cup hopes on the line in Honiara this afternoon.

Tahiti lead Group B with six points from four matches, three clear both the Kapuls and Bonitos, who each need four points from the next two games to advance to the OFC final against Group A winners New Zealand.

A loss for either team at Lawson Tama Stadium would effectively end their World Cup dream.

Flemming Serritslev (L) is happy to have David Browne (R) back in the squad.

Flemming Serritslev (L) is happy to have David Browne (R) back in the squad. Photo: OFC Media

PNG coach Flemming Serritslev had faith in his players and said they have it all to play for.

"If it will be a win for a team then Tahiti will be sitting back and laughing and probably going on to the next stage," he said.

"It's really an exciting situation that we have right now but I believe very much in my team and I believe we will be able to go on to the next stage.

"Solomons has a very good team, no doubt about it. They have very good individuals and we know that we will face a big crowd in Honiara because Solomon Islands is really a football country.

"But we will have to use this big crowd also as motivation for us to make a good result there and we are not coming, playing for one point we are actually going there to win."

The PNG Kapuls have spent close to three weeks preparing in camp in Port Moresby but Flemming Serritslev admits Solomon Islands could have an edge after drawing 1-1 with Fiji in Suva before a 1-0 defeat in Lautoka.

"You could say it's maybe a bit of advantage for Solomon Islands that they have had two tough matches now against Fiji and we will play them without having any friendly matches," he said.

"On the other hand we come very well prepared out players are in very good physical shape and they have been playing very well in the camp so I'm actually optimistic."

Changes aplenty for both teams

Papua New Guinea welcome back David Browne from suspension after he was sent off on debut against Tahiti in March, however fellow winger Nigel Dabinyaba will be absent after picking up two yellow cards.

Benjamin Totori will wear the armband for Solomon Islands in the absence of suspended skipper Henry Fa'arodo.

Veteran striker Benjamin Totori will captain Solomon Islands against Papua New Guinea.

Veteran striker Benjamin Totori will captain Solomon Islands against Papua New Guinea. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

But there's a more fundamental change in the Bonitos set-up with Vega Arango Alonso replacing Moses Toata in the coaching hot-seat.

The Spaniard said, although the results weren't in their favour, the matches against Fiji showed the team was progressing.

"I think they are progressing every day a little bit," he said.

"I think the Fiji trip was good so you can see how we are playing. You see the chemistry of the team and you also see the things we need to work on like the finishing. In Fiji we had a lot of chances and we couldn't convert."

Alonso said it was crucial they make use of home advantage before the return leg in Port Moresby on Tuesday.

"At the moment, we have two matches with them, Friday and Tuesday, and we have to get four points," he said.

"So, the match for us is simple, we have to win and get the three points because if you tie here and have to win there, it's a lot harder.

"If you win here, you are putting pressure on the opposition so my only approach here is that we've got to win."

Bonitos coach Vega Arango Alonso.

Bonitos coach Vega Arango Alonso. Photo: OFC Media