The failure by the PNG Football Academy officials to obtain visas for the players and officials on time has been described by the Government as “unfortunate”, while team officials said it was frustrating for the players.
The Ferns had thrashed the PNG women 7-1 in Lae on Saturday. The second leg is scheduled for tonight at the QBE Stadium in Auckland.
The team was told at Jackson Airport on Sunday after arriving from Lae that their visas were not ready. The National was reliably informed that the visa applications were submitted only last Wednesday and Thursday.
OFC president David Chung, who is also the head of the PNGFA and the regional FIFA vice-president, could not be reached for comment yesterday in Port Moresby.
PNG Football Association general secretary Dimirit Mileng said he was yet to be fully briefed on the matter.
“Thank you for enquiring as this office is working around the clock to rectify and try to avoid such problems in future,” Mileng said.
Assistant coach and mentor Percy Mataio said yesterday the trip had been called off.
He said it was frustrating for the players who were looking forward to taking on the Kiwis on their home ground today.
Sports and Tourism Minister Justin Tkatchenko described the travel cancellation as “unfortunate” and something that “should have been prevented”.
Tkatchenko said the situation illustrated the need for sporting codes to work in consultation with the State through the PNG Sports Foundation and the Sports Ministry so that they were aware of how sporting bodies were organising their trips overseas.
“This is not the first time that travel for sports teams and athletes have been affected by visa issues,” Tkatchenko said in a statement.
“We need to look at ways to do things better for the future of sports development and growth in this country.”
The 2015 Pacific Games team manager Diana Tasion was disappointed with the PNGFA for failing to organise the visas.
The Oceania Football Confederation has notified New Zealand Football of the situation.
“We are aware there is an issue and we are awaiting an update from OFC,” a New Zealand Football spokesperson said.
The PNGFA is believed to be in touch with the Oceania Football Confederation and FIFA about the possibility of making an alternative arrangement for the match.
According to a commercial company working with the Australia and the New Zealand governments in providing visa application services in the Pacific, Papua New Guineans wishing to travel to New Zealand would have their visas processed by the NZ Immigration office in Suva, Fiji.
The FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup will be hosted in Port Moresby in November.
The National / ONE PNG