In brief: sports news from the Pacific

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Tonga withdraw from FIFA World Cup

Tonga have pulled out of this year’s Oceania leg of the World Cup following the volcanic eruption and tsunami last month.

The national team were due to face the Cook Islands on March 13 in a one-leg qualifying match to decide the final berth for the qualifying tournament in Qatar.

Photo: OFC Media

Tonga’s withdrawal means the Cook Islands will automatically join Solomon Islands, Tahiti and Vanuatu in Group A.

Oceania Football Federation general secretary Franck Castillo said that although it was disappointing, the decision was understandable.

“Most Tongans are currently focused – including members of the football community – on rebuilding their lives and caring for family members and friends who have been affected by the disaster,” said Castle.

Toutai Kefu will coach a star-studded Tongan side against a vintage Queensland Reds side to raise money for the country’s recovery effort.

Tonga coach Kefu is in recovery himself, after a terrifying home invasion last August led to the former Wallabies great being hospitalized and his wife, son and daughter injured. her daughter.

But he will be back for a 40-minute curtain-raiser for the Reds’ Super Rugby Pacific home opener on February 19 at Lang Park in Brisbane.

George Smith, Wendell Sailor and Lote Tuqiri will all be present on the Tonga side; James Horwill, Scott Higginbotham and David Croft will step into the shoes of the Vintage Reds.

The disaster was felt strongly across Australian rugby, given many players’ close family ties to Tonga.

“It means a lot to me, my family and my community to have the opportunity to raise funds for our people,” Kefu said.

“Our country has been devastated by this disaster, so every penny we can raise counts.

“We have great players stepping into the boots of both teams and it’s going to be a great show, with some good rugby being played.”

The Papua New Guinea Football Association has named its final 25-man squad for the men’s World Cup regional qualifiers in Qatar from March 14-30.

The association’s general secretary, Pius Letenge, said Fifa had granted the organization an exemption to prepare another list of players who will be non-travelling reserves in case of an emergency.

The team will be accompanied by eight team officials who will depart for Qatar on March 7.

Association president John Kapi Natto said players who missed the cut would be on standby to replace an injured player or in the event a player is ill or unavailable.

“In our preparations, there were no (international) friendlies, it is difficult to cross borders (due to coronavirus restrictions).

“Our (coaching) team has been working on how we can prepare the team in the middle of the pandemic, especially without playing against other countries and finding where we are.”

Squad: Ronald Warisan, Russel Chris, Ila Ilarova (goalkeepers), Alwin Komolong, Philip Steven, Felix Komolong, Joshua Talau, Daniel Joe, Koriak Upaiga, Emmanuel Airem, Gimale Essau (defenders), David Muta, Emmanuel Simon, Jacob Sabua, Yagi Yasasa, Michael Foster, Stahl Gubag, Ati Kepo, Obert Bika, Pala Paul (midfielders), Raymond Gunemba, Kolu Kepo, Mathew David, Patrick Aisa and Tommy Semmy (forwards), Marcos Gusmao (head coach), Bob Morris (assistant coach), Roy Kamen (head of delegation), Joseph Ealedona (team manager), Joshua Kayengkim (assistant coach), Godfrey Baniau (goalkeeping coach), Samson Steven (kit manager), Jimmy Kepas (physiotherapist ).

Help arrives to make sure the Pacific Games go ahead

More overseas personnel have arrived in Honiara to support construction work on the 2023 Games facilities.

“Due to the combination of COVID-19 and the November/December civil unrest, construction progress is being severely affected,” said Solomon Islands National Receiving Authority Chairman Jimmie Rodgers.

“With the current workforce, we will not be able to complete the facilities in time for the Games next year. The additional staff will ensure that the facilities are completed in time for the Games.”

Rodgers said the additional staff will support the Pacific Games Project and the Pacific Games Village for accommodation at SINU Kukum Campus which will later be transferred by NHA/PG 2023 to SINU as accommodation for its students.

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