Oceania Football Confederation > News > 2016 OFC Futsal Championship > Solomon Islands claim fifth title

Solomon Islands claim fifth title

“Colombia here we come!” an ecstatic Kurukuru captain Elliot Ragomo shouted to fans who packed into the stand to see the side collect their gold medals and the championship trophy.
“We’re just so proud to be here and to be going off to Colombia to represent Solomon Islands, Oceania, and each of the nations’ who took part in this competition,” Ragomo shares.
“The OFC Futsal Championship wouldn’t be what it is without each of the teams that took part, so thanks to all of you. And please, keep doing what you are doing back in your countries because it is an honour to play you, and we all need to keep working and improving.
The Kurukuru made a clean sweep of this year’s competition scoring 23 goals and conceding just three. Consistent performances saw the competition’s individual awards scooped by Solomon Islanders too, with Ragomo taking the coveted Golden Ball for the best player of the tournament.
Goalkeeper Anthony Talo’s record speaks for itself so it comes as no surprise he took home the Golden Gloves, while George Stevenson takes the Golden Boot for his five goals.
“I’m so happy for my players and the management,” coach Juliano Schmeling says.
“This week has been unbelievable. When you see the story of the Kurukuru, these players are amazing and I’m so happy to be part of this historic occasion.”
While the title was effectively sewn up when the Solomon Islands beat Vanuatu on Match Day 4, they still had an encounter with Fiji to contest and although the hosts were yet to earn a point, they had proven against New Zealand that they were a side capable of causing an upset.
Fiji started strong and though they were the first to get a shot off, could only hold off their opponent for five minutes before Ragomo once again opened the scoring. Jack Wetney added to the tally a minute later as he finished a cross from Stevenson, before goals from Coleman Makau and Robert Laua gave the Kurukuru a 4-0 lead going into the break.
Fiji fought back hard in the second half and managed to get themselves up to 45 per cent of possession, but with only half the number of shots as the Solomon Islands it was always going to be a hard task. What the developing side can be proud of is allowing the champions to score just one goal against them in the second half, with that honour going to Laua.
“It was quite an impressive performance. Comparing yesterday’s performance and today’s, we are here to learn and I think this competition has been successful for us in terms of where we stand,” Fiji coach Intiaz Khan says.
Solomon Islands coach Juliano Schmeling gave credit to Fiji for their final performance against his side.
“I would like to say congratulations to Fiji for the amazing improvement that they’ve had since Monday through to today. To the Fiji federation, and to this team in particular, just keep going. There’s huge potential in this Fiji team.”
The day opened with Tahiti and Vanuatu both vying for third position on the podium. With a medal in sight it was almost a late wake-up call for Vanuatu as they took Tahiti to task from the opening minutes.
Less than three minutes in emerging talent Joseph Hanghangkon smashed a low shot under Teva Durot to open the scoring and put Vanuatu in the front seat. They held on to that lead for much of the first half courtesy of some resolute defending, but two quick goals in the last four minutes of the half, to Manea Rateau and Smith Tino gave Tahiti a one goal advantage going into the second half.
Rateau got his brace before Anderson Tino added two more to Tahiti’s tally and with Vanuatu only able to add one more through Pakoa Rakom, the victory and the podium finish were the French Polynesians.
Before his voice gave way Tahiti coach Jacob Tutavae was able to share his sentiments on his side earning a final win.
“We had to win against Vanuatu to get a podium finish, it’s not what we came here targeting but we are very pleased to go home with medals.”
Another disappointing afternoon for Louis Dominique on the other hand, as once again small errors cost them dearly.
“We started really well but unfortunately the boys, I don’t know what happened, but they started making a lot of mistakes and Tahiti capitalised,”he says.
New Caledonia were effectively out of the top three race although with pride on the line they were determined to get a in. Meanwhile a victory for New Zealand would see them secure the silver, the next best things after missing out on the title.
It looked shaky for the Futsal Whites early on as Ludovic Boit pounced in the first 30 seconds to smash his side into the lead, however New Zealand never gave up and despite some testing court conditions soon had their equaliser.
Micky Malivuk found the back of the net in the 12th minute and before long New Zealand were on a scoring blitz as Brayden Lissington and Daniel Burns gave them a 3-1 lead at half-time. James Vaughn added a fourth late in the second half and despite giving it their all, New Caledonia didn’t have enough left in the tanks to get themselves back in the game.
“You know, we have a very young side many of which have never played an international match before,” New Caledonia coach William Bret says.
“We came here with grand ambitions but sometimes you need to. Of course we’re disappointed not to get some better results, but overall I think it’s been a good experience for these players.”
Scott Gilligan’s side had firmly targeted Colombia 2016, with the silver medal very much a consolation prize for a squad that has been building for this competition for close to four years.
“We’re pleased to get the win tonight, I think the boys at least deserved to get the silver. It would have been nice to have beaten the Solomons, but that’s the way it goes.
“We’ve got a really good group of young players coming through, Luc (Saker) is one of the first of those coming through and you can see the skill level there. We’ve got some kids like that back home so I know the next four years is utilising those players.”
Download the competition summary here

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