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PNG ready for Malaysia test

Staff Reporter 6/16/2016 | |
Less than a week after their agonising defeat to New Zealand in the OFC Nations Cup final, Papua New Guinea will be back in action on Friday in a one-off game against Malaysia in Port Moresby.Looking to build towards next year's third stage of World Cup qualifying, PNG coach Flemming Serritslev says it’s exactly what his side needs.

“It is very important to keep the momentum we gained during the Nations Cup and it is our goal to test ourselves against teams that are better than us on paper.

“I was very satisfied with our performances but in order to reach a new level we still have to develop the team and also try other players," says Serritslev.

“During the Nations Cup we used very few players so the Malaysia game will offer a chance for others to prove themselves at international level.”

After winning plenty of hearts and minds with their spirited Nations Cup campaign, Serritslev also sees the game against Malaysia as another opportunity to promote football in PNG.

“Again, it’s about momentum and if we play well we can attract more fans and broaden the support for the national team and the game in the country,’ says the former Danish international.

“Hopefully we can motivate a lot of children to start playing football.”

Despite the penalty shootout heartbreak against New Zealand last weekend, Serritslev insists his players will be mentally and physically prepared for their next challenge.

“I have no trouble motivating the players, they love playing football and they are looking forward to test themselves again.

“They are keen to show that we are capable of competing with a team ranked higher than us," says the 69-year-old coach.

“It will also teach us where we might have some deficits and how some of our more inexperienced players can handle a tough opponent.”

Friday’s match will be Malaysia’s first of their three-match Oceania tour before they visit New Caledonia on 22 June and Fiji four days later.

National coach Ong Kim Swee, who will use the tour to lay the groundwork for a Malaysia’s AFF Suzuki Cup in November and for the third round of AFC Asian Cup qualifying next year, is expecting tough challenges from all three Oceania teams.

"Fiji qualified for the [Brazil] Olympics and also Papua New Guinea lost to New Zealand in the Oceania final on penalty kicks, so you can see the amount of games they're playing and the kind of standard they are playing.”

Story courtesy of OFC.

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