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Holbrook: Redemption beckons for Kumuls

After tasting a heavy 43-16 loss at the hands of the flamboyant Fiji Bati side last week Sunday, the PNG Kumuls are poised to exact revenge on the Batis when the two Melanesian rivals go head-to-head in the final clash of the Pacific Championship Bowl challenge on Sunday, November 5, at Santos National Football Stadium in Port Moresby.

The Kumuls’ performance against the Batis on Sunday was mediocre, abysmal and below par. In all honesty, it was one of the worst performances the Kumuls ever displayed on the international arena, if my memory serves me correctly.

Justin Holbrook and his coaching staff, including the team management and fans alike were taken off guard by the determined Batis. No one expected Fiji to run over PNG with a comprehensive margin, especially on home soil. The Batis pulled off a historic upset against PNG on their turf.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday, November 1st, coach Justin Holbrook said he wanted the players to stick to the basics and play simple structured football in their do-or-die clash against Fiji on Sunday.

“We have watched the video and identified a number of areas we wanted to be better at and execute well this weekend,” Holbrook said.

“We have to improve. They played the ball way too fast and we did the opposite. We did not play well when we had the ball. We were worn out and they handled that really well. We have to be better.”

Holbrook touched on discipline and wanted the players to pull their socks up for the big dance, as they have a chance to seek redemption and clinch the silverware.

“I mentioned after the game that we have to improve our discipline – something we have done really well in the previous games and we did not do that on the weekend. We gave Fiji too many opportunities, which we do not want to do this weekend,” he said.

After the poor performance last Sunday, Holbrook decided to swing the axe, bringing in four new players to the starting lineup.

“I wanted to give everyone a game. I am really happy to include Junior Rop, Nixon Putt, Liam Horne and Rodrick Tai. I made a few changes but I was not unhappy with any individual performance. I was unhappy with the way we played collectively as a team. I brought these boys back to the team because they have been good and they deserve to be in the squad,” Holbrook stated.

“We were all bitterly disappointed – the playing group and coaching staff on last weekend’s performance, but that is what it is all about. You have to learn from it. When you do things really well, you just assume that it will happen again but it does not happen and I guess we have seen that.

“With the other teams’ games, to be honest, the Cook Islands were very disappointed against us and came back and nearly beat Fiji. Fiji were disappointed against the Cook Islands and came back and defeated us easily. It was sort of a learning curve for us last weekend and we have the opportunity to get it right this weekend.”

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