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Solympics squad trimmed down

Nearly 50 players have been trying to force their way into the squad through a series of training sessions since early January and there will be some disappointed young men after that group was cut to 27 .
A selection panel featuring Noel Wagapu, Gideon Omokirio, Jacob Moli, Rex Masuaku and Batram Suri was responsible for the tough decisions and have selected eight players each for the defensive, midfield and striking positions, plus three goalkeepers.
The majority of the players are from Telekom S-League clubs with Carroll Kakate and Emmanuel Poila the only exceptions. Kakate was contracted to Papua New Guinea club Eastern Star last year while Poila has not registered with a club since returning from Fiji.
A group of 11 has progressed from the 2011 U-20 team but selection panel head Noel Wagapu says their places – and that of any other player – are far from secure.
He says a lot more work is in store for the players over the coming weeks and they will have to prove themselves to earn a spot at the Oceania Olympic qualifiers, which are scheduled to take place in March in New Zealand.
“Competition was tough during the trials but it will become tougher starting from this week,” Wagapu says. “Players must prove why they should be picked by demonstrating their ability on the field.”
Just who will lead the team in the head coaching role is still to be decided but negotiations are underway with potential appointees and an announcement will made in due course by the Solomon Islands Football Federation.
In terms of the likely make-up of the final squad, competition amongst the goalkeepers is expected to be fierce, although Shadrack Ramoni would appear to have the upper hand over Silas Seda and Jimmy Qwaimani.
Ramoni is the more experienced of the trio and was involved in the previous Solympics team in 2008. He is also the current first choice for the senior national side and has starred for Koloale in three editions of the O-League, the Pacific’s premier club competition.
Israel Koti is the only new face in the list of defenders as all the others have already played for Solomon Islands at some level. Koti, who is a former participant of SIFF’s LEARN&play grassroots programme, faces stiff competion from the likes of U-20 captain Michael Sira and Hadisi Aengari for a place in the final squad.
Futsal star Jeffery Bule, a pivot for the Kurukuru national team in the indoor version of the game, is the most well-known face in the midfield but the likes of Himson Teleda from Western United and Hana’s Jeffery Henry also have talent to burn.
The only forward with his place all but booked is Micah Lea’alafa, who is currently the hottest young striker in the country after an impressive first half of the S-League season with Solomon Warriors. Like Bule, the young striker is also a key member of the OFC championship-winning Kurukuru.
Solomon Islands will compete against seven other OFC member associations – namely American Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu – at the qualifiers and the winner will earn the right to represent Oceania at the 2012 Olympic Games, set to take place in London during July and August.
Solympics training squad
Silas Seda (Solomon Warriors)
Jimmy Qwaimani (Real Kakamora)
Shadrack Ramoni (Koloale)
Freddie Kini (Koloale)
Emmanuel Poila (unattached)
Michael Sira (Kossa)
Ian Sida (Hana)
Francis Lafai (Koloale)
Michael Boso (Western United)
Hadisi Aengari (Solomon Warriors)
Israel Koti (Koloale)
Leonard Rokoto (Western United)
Jeffery Henry (Hana)
Augustine Samani (Koloale)
Molis Gagame (Koloale)
Joses McPaulson Nawo (Koloale)
Himson Teleda (Western United)
Moffat Kilifa (Western United)
Jeffery Bule (Solomon Warriors)
Jerry Donga (Solomon Warriors)
Denis Ifunaoa (Solomon Warriors)
Ian Paia (Koloale)
Tutizama Tanito (Marist)
Micah Lea’alafa (Solomon Warriors)
Johan Doiwale (Real Kakamora)
Karol Kakate (Eastern Star, Papua New Guinea)
Tony Otini (Hana)
For more on Solomon Islands football go to www.siff.com.sb

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