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OFC U-17 CHAMPIONSHIP – SOLOMON ISLANDS PREPARATION SETBACK

HONIARA, 29 Jan 2009: The Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) U-16 trial matches scheduled to start this week at the SIFF Academy has been cancelled because of heavy rain.

SIFF Development Officer Noel Wagapu who co-ordinates the trials says the two matches will be re-scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.

“It was disappointing for those who had turned up but that is something we have no control over.”

The trials will involve more than 100 players and the SIFF Technical department is confident it will be able to select a competitive squad for the OFC U-17 Men’s Championship.

Solomon Islands did not compete in the previous OFC U-17 Men’s Championship in Tahiti in 2007, and missed out the OFC U-20 Men’s Championship last year so SIFF is committed to sending a team in this age group to represent the country.

Solomon Islands last forays into OFC youth competition saw a highly rated U-20 team finish in third place in 2007 with Judd Molea the stand-out player and a runners-up spot at the OFC Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in Fiji last year.

Solomon Islands earned a creditable 1-1 draw with New Zealand at Trusts Stadium in Henderson but fell to a Roy Krishna-inspired Fiji 3-0 – a result that ended interest in qualification for the FIFA U-20 Men’s World Cup – Canada 2007.

In 2008, the Solympics U-23 squad finished runners-up to New Zealand after playing an exciting style of football with Benjamin Totori and Alick Maemae in good form.

Since Solomon Islands disappointing XIII South Pacific Games/2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa campaign ended, the primary source of regular international football has been in the O-League, with Marist FC, Kossa FC and Koloale FC carrying the nation’s hopes abroad.

Success in both OFC Futsal and OFC Beach Soccer Championships has helped sustain Solomon Islands passion for football but a return to the 11-a-side game for the national team colours will be viewed as a breath of fresh-air by fans.

A panel of selectors will assist Wagapu during the duration of the trials to identify the best players for the squad. The names of the players selected for the U-17 squad will be announced straight after the trial matches.

Wagapu hints that because of time constraints, the squad will undergo a short but intensive preparation once the final team is named.

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