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  • Writer's pictureAdam Cattell

Warren Moon: Former A-League Men boss embracing Papua New Guinea challenge

In a bold move signalling a renewed emphasis on football in Papua New Guinea, seasoned Australian manager Warren Moon recently took over the nation's men's national team and will guide them at the 2023 Pacific Games. Moon is familiar to Australian football followers from his stint at the Brisbane Roar, and he currently serves as the Technical Director of NPL Queensland side Lions FC. He spoke to Front Page Football from the Solomon Islands, the host nation for the multi-sport event dedicated to Oceania's various countries and territories.

Former Brisbane Roar boss Warren Moon was appointed Papua New Guinea's new manager in October. (KEEPUP)

Moon's appointment came about through an indirect connection to the Papua New Guinea Football Association (PNGFA). While providing analytics work during the Women's World Cup for former Matildas head coach Tom Sermanni, Moon was introduced to the PNGFA Secretary, leading to a fruitful conversation over coffee in Brisbane.

"I was genuinely looking for something different, an opportunity to experience something new," Moon explained to FPF, revealing the allure of the challenge.

He promptly signed a three-month contract and embarked on a journey to Port Moresby, initiating a training camp three weeks ago.

For Moon, whose first visit to the country has been an eye-opening experience, the optimistic spirit of the people is leaving a profound impression.

"I think in Australia, we can sometimes take our situation for granted," he reflected.

"It's been amazing to witness people with such positivity in quite difficult circumstances."

The Papua New Guinea team after a training session preparing for the Pacific Games. (Warren Moon LinkedIn)

Currently ranked 165th in the world, Papua New Guinea finds itself in a three-team Group B alongside Tuvalu and Vanuatu at the Pacific Games. The top team will qualify for the semi-finals, joining the Group A, C, and D winners.

Moon remains realistic regarding his side's chances, acknowledging the team's current rebuilding phase.

"We did play recently in the President's Cup and lost all three games," he admitted.

"We are not probably amongst the favourites [at] the Pacific Games, but I certainly think we are more than capable of challenging."

Most of Moon's squad plays in the local Papua New Guinea national soccer league, with one notable exception being striker Tommy Semmy, who has recently signed for NPL Victoria outfit Melbourne Knights. Semmy previously represented Altona Magic and has also trialled for the Brisbane Roar.

Moon, who is being assisted by former national team player and Sunshine Coast Fire midfielder David Muta, has been impressed by the dedication and quality displayed by his players. He even hinted that Australian sides could benefit from scouting the Oceania region's untapped talent.

"The quality in the region is definitely here."

"Where other countries hold the advantage is in terms of their resources and high-performance programs."



Moon takes charge with Papua New Guinea ranked 165th in the world. (PNG Football Association Facebook)

He also highlighted the logistical challenges faced in the country, citing the difficulties in arranging flights for players and the lack of direct roads on the island. Despite these hurdles, Moon and his team have conducted around 16 training sessions thus far.

In a nation where rugby league reigns supreme, Moon remains optimistic about the future of football in Papua New Guinea.

"There's a large number of young people playing football," he said.

"It's a little bit like in Australia, I guess, where the game probably doesn't get the government funding compared to other sports."

Despite the challenges, Moon will aim to produce something special with his Papua New Guinea side as their Pacific Games campaign begins today against Tuvalu, with the match scheduled at 12 pm AEDT.

Click here to read more of FPF's coverage of Aussies abroad!


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