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Hopeful Bilikiki fly out to Noumea

With the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup kicking off in Tahiti next month the winner of this tournament will become the final team to qualify for the event and the the Bilikiki are hoping it will be them.
With only two matches to play to determine whether their travels will extend to Tahiti, the Bilikiki are looking to avoid the same mistakes as those they made at the last championship.
Two years ago the side returned broken-hearted after seeing Tahiti’s Tiki Toa crush their five year dominance of regional beach soccer. This time round they will not have the Tiki Toa to deal with since the tournament only features New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. Tahiti have automatically qualified as hosts.
For the Bilikiki, hope and confidence are the keywords as Gideon Omokirio takes them on his biggest assignment yet since retiring as a player in 2011. Omokirio, who was a mainstay in the Bilikiki backline for six years, is making this journey to a world cup qualifying competition as head coach for the first time.
“We are united in our thoughts and in our objective for the competition,” says Omokirio. “In camp I witnessed resilience and determination and these are qualities we need to overcome the opposition and rise to the top spot.
“I believe that this team has the composition to win – we have both experience and youth in this side and the players are also more mature with the tactics and set plays we spent the last few months drilling into them. Of course, the final whistle will determine the results but we are optimistic that we can be in Tahiti in three weeks time.”
The line up for 2013 is interestingly segmented with veterans like James Naka and Samson Takayama occupying the top tier and followed by the likes of goalkeeper Abraham Bird and wingers, Robert Laua and Augustine Anisi, who come in mid-level in terms of experience.
Most of the responsibility will be shouldered by these two groups and this is where they hold an advantage over their opponents which have never had any of their players play in a FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.
The last group which is composed of the new faces features Anthony Talo, more popularly known as a futsal goalkeeper, Seni Ngava and Patrick Marie, all of whom are defenders. While none have tasted international beach soccer before, Omokirio is offering his full support to the trio and expects them to step up to the challenge at the regional level.
“I have no doubt that these players will perform for the team, both Ngava and Talo are not new to international competition so they will make their mark strongly and Marie is an exciting defender who balances agility well with aggression. Throughout our preparations they have impressed me day in-day out so I really look forward to seeing them play.”
The OFC Beach Soccer Championship will kick off on Saturday, 31 August. Solomon Islands will play Vanuatu in the opening match of the competition. Their second and final match is against hosts New Caledonia on Monday, 2 September.
The competition format is based on the round-robin league system so the winner will be the team with the most points after all teams have played against each other at least once.
For more on Solomon Islands football go to www.siff.com.sb

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