THE COUNTDOWN is on for Papua New Guinea to host of the 2016 FIFA Under 20 Women’s World Cup, from 13 November to 3 December.

Official event mascot Susa the Kumul, or bird of paradise, was introduced to fans at the Sir John Guise Stadium in Port Moresby in June.

Designed in PNG’s national colours of black, red and yellow, Susa also wears a headband reflecting the traditional headdress worn throughout the four regions of the country Susa, pidgin for “Sister”, will appeal to younger fans and will capture the enthusiasm of people from all over the world, FIFA director of marketing Thierry Well said.

“She is fun-loving, friendly and fair, which makes her the perfect ambassador for the tournament with the growing number of young women in Papua New Guinea who have been inspired by the hosting of the tournament in their home country,” he said.

PNG Football Association president David Chung said Susa was a fitting mascot for the tournament, adding that her uniqueness symbolised the diversity of PNG.

“Susa will become an ambassador to spread the message of football throughout Papua New Guinea that the world is coming in November,” he said.

Mr Chung said that the Under 20 Women’s World Cup tournament is also an opportunity to generate awareness on gender issues in PNG’s traditional male-dominated society.

The event will be staged in Port Moresby at the National Football Stadium, Sir John Guise Stadium, Bava Park and PNG Football Stadium.

Hosting the FIFA Under 20 Women’s World Cup marks Papua New Guinea’s debut into the tournament, with the country to play the opening match against Brazil on 13 November.

The PNG government has committed funding to support the event which includes infrastructure development and a training program for its representing team.

A total of 16 teams from FIFA confederacies in Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe and Oceania will be taking part.

The event is also expected to be a major tourist draw for PNG, as well as being broadcast internationally.