OFC and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) have welcomed New Caledonia, Samoa and Vanuatu while the hosts have returned to the capital after completing a training camp in Malaita as part of their final preparations before kick-off at Lawson Tama Stadium on Friday 1 June.
Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Tahiti are expected to touchdown on Tuesday while New Zealand will be the last team to arrive on Wednesday.
All teams are greeted at the airport with a lively cultural performance including traditional pan pipes, drums, singing and dancing as well as being provided local refreshments as part of the official welcome.
Martin Alufurai, President of Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) and OFC Senior Vice President, says it is a privilege for the country to play host over the next two weeks.
“We welcome the players, officials and supporters of all seven visiting teams to our shores. Football is the reason that everyone is here but we invite visitors to also enjoy the hospitality of our people and the beauty of the Solomon Islands,” says Alufurai, who himself arrived in Honiara today after attending the FIFA Congress and OFC Congress in Budapest, Hungary.
“Solomon Islands is a country madly in love with football. It is an honour for us to host this tournament and particularly special for the younger generation to see the region’s best players in action right here in Honiara.”
OFC Event Manager Seamus Marten says the LOC has worked hard to complete preparations at the stadium, which have included legacy projects such as the construction of a new TV studio and media tribune.
“Hosting an event of this magnitude always presents its challenges and there are a number of final checks to go through over the coming days but we are confident we’ll be ready,” says Marten.
“We owe a lot to our volunteers who have been invaluable during the build-up and who will continue to work around the clock to ensure the tournament is a success.”
Marten, who was born in New Zealand but is of Solomon Islands descent, says the local support is also an important part of the tournament.
“I think for the Solomon Islands football family it’s an opportunity to showcase Honiara and Lawson Tama Stadium as a venue, and to really show people around the Pacific why they are the most passionate about football.”
The OFC Nations Cup kicks off this Friday and concludes on Sunday 10 June. All 16 matches will be streamed live via oceaniafootball.com