Sport: PNG‘s Toti humbled in OFC mismatch

A Wellington cold snap, different offside rules and the split in Papua New Guinea football contributed to the Toti City Dwellers‘ heavy quarter-final loss in the Oceania Football Confederation‘s (OFC) Champions League, their coach says.

Toti coach Peter Gunemba. Photo: RNZ Pacific / Seiko Kurokawa

Toti, formerly Lae, were thrashed 11-0 by Team Wellington in the New Zealand capital on Saturday, when brilliant Autumn weather suddenly gave way to a wintery blast.

From temperatures above 30 degrees celsius in PNG, Toti players were greeted by Wellington‘s trademark wind and icy showers at David Farrington Park in Miramar, where the mercury hovered at about 13.

The opening goal by Wellington‘s Nathanael Hailemariam in the 6th minute slammed the flood gates open with the No.10 scoring a hat-trick as his teammate Angus Kilkolly netted four.

Despite the score line, Toti goal keeper Ronald Warisan was a stand out with some impressive saves.

His coach Peter Gunemba was baffled by the result.

“I don‘t really understand what went wrong. One contributing factor is the weather, it‘s too cold for us. And another thing is the offside system, we are not familiar with it and we thought many of these goals were offside,” Gunemba said.

“So we will go back and talk about it and hopefully the referees at home should apply these rules,” he said.

“Anyway, we lost, but we learned something here. It will help us to go back home, correct ourselves and increase the intensity of our performance and training so that we can be competitive in the future.”

Toti was captained by PNG international Raymond Gunemba, but his coach said the split in his country‘s footballing landscape was weakening PNG in Oceania.

The PNG Football Association‘s National Soccer League only has seven teams while the breakaway National Premier League, which is not recognised by the sport‘s governing bodies, has 12.

The leagues needed to unite, Peter Gunemba said.

“I think the standard of our football has dropped a lot when we have two associations. I want them to sit down, talk it over and come back together as one organisation for the good of the players.”

Toti‘s Mathew David makes a rare foray into Team Wellington‘s box. Photo: RNZ Pacific / Seiko Kurokawa

Defending champions Auckland City will meet Team Wellington in the OFC Champions League semi-finals after beating Solomon Warriors 2-0 on Sunday in New Zealand.

Fiji‘s Lautoka defeated Tahiti‘s Dragon 2-1 in Tahiti to reach the semi finals. They will meet Marist from Solomon Islands who edged Vanuatu‘s Nalkutan 2-1 in Port Vila.

The semi-finals are played over two legs, on April 21-22 and 28-29.