Fiji’s reigning domestic football champion Lautoka FC has been boosted with the inclusion of a pair of Papua New Guinea’s national representatives.
Star striker Raymond Gunemba and PNG national goalkeeper Ishmael Pole are expected to strengthen the side for the Oceania Football Confederation Champions League playoffs this week.
The movement of the players indicate a shift in the region’s football towards a more professional approach.
The 36-year-old Gunemba said it was a surprising call and thanked the almighty for the assignment.
“It is a blessing and I am grateful for the opportunity,” he said.
“I am willing to deliver accordingly although it is a challenging call.
“The call is a rare and a unique one that came randomly, and I fully understand that Lautoka FC wants something special from me to make an impact.
“I will return the favor and give my level best so that the team qualifies for the OFC Champions League.”
Both players arrived in the country on Monday evening.
Head coach of Lautoka FC Anginesh Prasad said the duo were utility footballers, who could play in a number of positions. He said the duos arriving with a clean bill of health on the injury front, gave him confidence going into the tie.
“Preparation has been going very well, as we all know the importance of the OCL,” he said.
“We want to make our people in Lautoka city proud.
“Our National Playoff opposition Rewa FC is a tough team.
“The Delta Tigers are currently undefeated in the 2022 Digicel Premier League and had beaten us 2-0 in that competition at the start of May.
“We are ready though and every player is eager to take the field against Rewa.
“It will be a battle of class.”
Lautoka battle rivals Rewa FC this weekend with the winner over two legs progressing to the final eight-team stage of Oceania’s premier club competition.
The first-leg at Churchill Park kicks off at 7.30pm on Friday, June 17 with the second-leg at ANZ Stadium in Suva scheduled for 3pm on Sunday, June 19.