By Ben Vile of AFLPNG Media
THE Papua New Guinea women’s AFL team the Flames head into their International Cup fifth-place playoff match today against Fiji Vonu, they can get a positive result after Tuesday’s 150-0 win over Pakistan.
The Vonu have been one of the highlights of the IC17, taking it up to top-ranked teams Canada and Great Britain in close losses, and recording huge wins against the European Crusaders and Pakistan.
Likewise, the Flames competed hard in tough matches going down to Ireland and USA, then showing their flair and skill in big victories over the Crusaders and Pakistan.
Fiji play their football hard and fast. With a number of players with rugby backgrounds, the Vonu have the ability to floor opposition teams with pure force and speed.
Overall, a heavier and taller side, Fiji will look to expose this advantage against their PNG opponents, combined with explosive play.
Flames coach Jonathan Ila is expecting a tight match against Fiji.
“Their strengths are that they’re are a physical side and stick to their structures well,” Ila said.
“However, I think we have more speed than them across the ground, especially in the centre where we have quality ball runners.
“It will be a hot contest in the first quarter but once the game settles we need to use our run and carry to advantage and the game will open up.”
The Flames will look to use the same midfield tactics that saw them dominate against Pakistan.
“Our ruckman Elma Emil has the ability to tap or punch the ball to the advantage of our midfielders. Our midfielders must set up correctly and be on the move when they receive the ball.”
Ila reshuffled his side in the Pakistan clash in what proved to be a coaching master stroke.
Identifying his side’s failure to capitalise on Emil’s ruck dominance in previous matches, he injected Brigid Gaur, Alice Alois and Phyllia Pisep into the midfield, while moving Taiva Lavai and Vanessa Pisep forward.
Both competitive beasts, Gaur and Alois continually got first hands on the ball and racked up centre clearances with quick kicks or running the ball out of the middle.
“Brigid’s injection into the centre brought havoc to the opposition, she just has a massive heart and always gives her all,” Ila said.
Meanwhile, the class and finishing skills of Lavai and Vanessa Pisep were resulting in goals or marks to Flames forwards deep in their forward line.
The Flames will miss their captain Prudence Sindriwen, Manicha Mettakaisava and Virginia Kiwathrough injury, while pocket rocket rover Vaine Lai will struggle to prove her fitness with an ankle injury.
The Flames girls will be looking to ignite the fire and finish their IC17 campaign with a bang today at 10:45am on McAlister Oval, Royal Park, Melbourne.