The Dragons sign Nigel Dabinyaba

Canterbury United’s Papua New Guinea recruit Nigel Dabingyaba is scoring for fun at the moment.

The 24-year-old committed to Canterbury before the start of the Stirling Sports Premiership, but “bureaucracy and formalities” halted his arrival, coach Willy Gerdsen said.

Dabingyaba landed in Christchurch on Friday in hot form after scoring two goals within five days on international duty for PNG against Iran and Malaysia this week.

At the Malaysian friendly tournament, PNG were hammered 8-1 by Iran, but gave a strong account of themselves against Malaysia, losing 2-1, with Dabingyaba a standout performer.

His debut should come this weekend on November 27 against Hamilton Wanderers at English Park, whose side includes his PNG strike partner Raymond Gunemba.

Dabingyaba can play anywhere in the attacking third and his addition will put pressure on Matt Wiesenfarth and Juan Chang for starting spots up front.

Gerdsen said the extended national league, which consists of 18 round games, meant it was vital to have a larger squad than last season, which created flexibility and depth.

Dabingyaba won’t be the only PNG international in the Canterbury squad with 19-year-old central defender Felix Komolong making a strong impression in his two starts against Southern United and Auckland City.

The signing of Dabingyaba had been “a long time in the making” with Gerdsen lauding his performances in June’s Oceania Nations Cup, where PNG lost on penalties to the All Whites in the final.

Dabingyaba fired PNG into the decider, scoring a 82nd minute winner as his side beat Solomon Islands 2-1 in the semi-finals.

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