Alwin Komolong got a great opportunity last summer when he joined fourth-tier team Stuttgarter Kickers in Germany. Football in Oceania takes a look at how the Papua New Guinean has done so far.
Joining the Kickers in the Regionalliga in the middle of July he made his debut in a friendly against city rivals – and big brothers – VfB Stuttgart.
A strong pre-season saw Komolong cement a place for himself in the starting lineup as one of two centre-backs. He played the full 90 minutes of the first seven league matches as well as the entirety of two out of three regional Cup games in August.
“Alvi”, who got the move to Stuttgart thanks to contacts that PNG national coach Flemming Serritslev had, told Radio Australia that he thought the move to the Kickers came at the perfect time.
“Graduating from college it really came at the perfect time, and also coming straight after our World Cup Qualification exit.”
Komolong missed the eight league match with an injury but was back for the ninth, but here the downhill started.
He was used as a substitute against Hoffenheim II and was taken off at halftime against Steinbach. The following match he was an unused substitute and got a one-minute appearance in the next game. Then he was back in the fold and played the entire match in a 4-1 loss to Elversberg, a match that would prove to be coach Tomasz Kaczmarek’s last in charge. He left Stuttgarter Kickers sitting in 14th, in the last relegation playoff spot. Before the season, the Kickers fans and board were hoping to fight for promotion.
The U-19 coach Paco Vaz was put in as interim coach to try and save the Kickers from relegation. Something Komolong believes they can achieve.
“Our aspiration right now, realistically, is just to stay in the league and get as many points as we can,” he told Radio Australia just after Kaczmarek got sacked.
But life under Vaz has not been great for Komolong. He has not been used in a single league game since Vaz took over and wasn’t even in the squad for the final game before the break. His only appearance under his new coach, who penned a permanent deal just before Christmas, came in the regional Cup as a substitute, playing 14 minutes.
So after a bright start with lots of games Komolong has found himself out in the cold under the new boss. Hopefully, he can bounce back and show Vaz that he should be playing during the winter break.
Stuttgarter Kickers next match is against TuS Koblenz, who sit a couple of points below them on the table, on February 3rd.
Hopefully, we’ll see Alwin in the starting lineup.