After exiting the 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup on a high with their first win ever in the competition, the Kurukuru are already looking ahead and acknowledging their regional responsibilities.
With a record of four wins from the last four competitions, the Kurukuru could be forgiven for expecting another comfortable ride to the crown, but that is not the feeling within the team.
Captain Elliot Ragomo has expressed confidence in his side’s abilities but says they are expecting the OFC championship to get tougher each year.
“We feel strongly confident about our chances because we are the most experienced side in the Pacific now. However, futsal is gaining more popularity and I believe that our opponents are improving every time we meet them – it’s not going to get easier, in fact, we expect it to be tougher,” Ragomo says.
He explains that, as champions, the Kurukuru must defend their title in the next championship but participating also serves another purpose.
“We have to defend our claim to the Oceania crown – we owe this to our opponents. However, also we need to play competitive futsal in the lead up to the next qualifiers and playing abroad against overseas competition is vital,” Ragomo says.
Beyond the need to stay on top is also the desire to return to the world stage and the team is already eyeing the 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup. It seems that the Kurukuru’s first win at the tournament has resulted in more than just euphoria but also a need to take themselves further in the competition.
“Our participation in the world cup this year has given us important feedback. We are now more sure than ever that we are moving in the right direction – we need to improve in certain areas and then making the second round will be possible,” Ragomo says.
However, making it to the next world cup will be a difficult journey for the Kurukuru. With the nation still lagging behind in terms of facilities compared to its rivals one thing is for sure – the team will always have to work extra hard to maintain the same edge they have over their opponents.
New Zealand and Tahiti have emerged as contenders with both nations already stating their intention to dethrone the Kurukuru to become Oceania’s next representative in the FIFA Futsal World Cup.
There is a chance that prospect will become reality, as Tahiti have already displayed in the beach soccer discipline when they shocked Solomon Islands to qualify for the 2011 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Italy.
Experience is now hugely in the Kurukuru’s favour but most importantly they require a regulation standard futsal court in their homeland and a competitive environment for the players if they are to maintain their form.
On the facility front, positive signs are already being seen with both the Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) and OFC expressing a strong commitment to the construction of a court.
The SIFF competitions department has plans to establish a national futsal league based on the Telekom S-League. The initial plan is to have eight clubs participating and talks with a potential sponsor have been very positive so far.
In the meantime, the Kurukuru are taking a well-deserved break after an intensive 18 months of training and their groundbreaking performance at the FIFA Futsal World Cup.
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