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Koloale qualify for third O-League


The Men in Green from Koloale will represent Solomon Islands in the O-League for the third time in a row after coming from behind to beat Solomon Warriors 3-2 in an action-packed second leg play-off at Lawson Tama Stadium last night.


Koloale captain Benjamin Totori battles for the ball with Warriors
opponent Bata Furai.

The two teams went into the clash with an equal chance of booking the country's 2012 O-League spot after drawing 0-0 in the first leg on Monday.

With so much attacking talent on show, it was unlikely there would be no goals this time and so it proved as the thousands packed inside Lawson Tama were treated to a five-goal thriller.

It was the experience of Koloale that made the difference as the Men in Green found themselves 2-0 down after only 12 minutes but held their nerve and managed to draw level by the hour mark. The goal that then sealed the victory was worthy of such an occasion and could easily turn out to be the strike of the season.

There appeared to be little danger when Koloale captain Benjamin Totori fed Henry Fa'arodo 30 yards out from goal in the 64th minute but the playmaker produced a stunning strike to beat Warriors goalkeeper Paul Huia and send Koloale's fanatical supporters wild.

They did not have as much to cheer about early on as two goals in four minutes, from Kidstone Billy and youngster Dennis Ifunaoa, gave Warriors a 2-0 advantage.

The first strike arrived with just eight minutes on the clock, Billy receiving a pass deep into Koloale territory and jinking his way past Samson Takayama and Francis Lafai before sending a shot beyond the reach of Shadrack Ramoni in the Warriors goal.

Ramoni was picking the ball out of the net again moments later after Ifunaoa latched onto a long pass and held off the challenge of Takayama to leave him with just the goalkeeper to beat. Ifunaoa, who represented silver medalists Solomon Islands at the OFC U-20 Championship in April, was not about to give up such an opportunity and dispatched the ball low past Ramoni's right.

The Koloale fans were stunned into silence by the early Warriors rampage and it took some time for their team to produced anything worthy of a cheer.

But the turning point came in the 39th minute when Totori led by example to get his side back into the game. The skipper linked up well with Lency Saeni to create a chance which he finished with aplomb.

When the halftime whistle arrived at 2-1 the game was still very much in the balance and the O-League place was there for either side to grab in the second spell.

Koloale looked the most likely to score after the restart and drew level in the 59th minute, Fa'arodo putting Joses Nawo in on goal with a clever pass which allowed him to drive into the box and slide home past a flat-footed Huia.

Four minutes later, Fa'arodo stepped up to provide his moment of magic and carve his name into Koloale folklore.

The win rounds off a successful season for Koloale, who also became the inaugural Telekom S-League champions last month.

Warriors can at least take some heart from the fact that they have been the only side to beat Koloale this season, which they did on two occasions, and certainly made them fight for their win in the O-League play-off.

Both clubs will be among the favourites for the title when the second Telekom S-League kicks off next season.

For more on Solomon Islands football go to www.siff.com.sb

Updated On Friday, June 17, 2011
  
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