Papua New Guinea
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Make or break for Goroka Lahanis

BY BENJAMIN KOITAKA

Goroka Lahanis were out of the finals scene for quite a while since claiming their last grand final title in 2018.

After claiming the premiership title, the club was forced to rebuild up from scratch given many of their top players departing to other clubs including premiership winning head coach Glen Nami.

With Nami moving over to Mendi Muruks the year (2019) after, the pride of Eastern Highlands has never picked its best form.

Joining the coaching bandwagon was Michael Moses, Umba Peter and Gonzella Urakusie and neither of them were able to steer the team into the finals.

The departure of key players in playmaker Mark Tony, John Gend and Amos Kafare to Lae Tigers, Brandon Nima and Nick Hasu to PNG Hunters and Norman Brown to Hela Wigmen impacted the Bintangor Ltd-sponsored franchise.

However, for this season (2023), things have been quite well after former PNG Kumuls stalwart Charlie Wabo steered the wheels mid-way.

Bringing in his own style and wealth of experience as another premiership winning coach while with Hela Wigmen, Wabo has perfectly positioned the Lahanis on the top box.

Yet to comfortably cement the top-six however they are embracing themselves very much to be there and play in the top finals.

Currently sitting on the sixth spot, Goroka-based club’s future would be decided by new comers Sepik Pride in Port Moresby, this Sunday.

And also, if both Port Moresby Vipers and Central Dabaris can come out victorious in their respective battles against Lae Tigers and Kimbe Cutters, it would be a tardy weekend for Lahanis go get there easily.

Wabo will rely on rookies like fullback Douglas Tandaku, with experiences of Tasi Kawage, Joseph Mock, Kafu Ken, Charlie Buka, Joseph Karara, Christopher Urakuise, Kuani Agumagu, Manu Sent and Ake Paulus to do the job.

Wabo while contacted yesterday left it open for few changes to the team but anticipates to bring in a strong team to keep their top six hopes alive.

“We will make few changes and will advise accordingly,” Wabo said.

He added they are keeping higher hopes to play the finals.

The top six is up for grab between Lahanis, Vipers and Dabaris to enter the do-or-die elimination finals next week.