OFC, Auckland: Australia’s pacific island contingent grew by three more last weekend, when Solomon Islanders Joel Konofilia, Jack Samani and Paul Usumae made their debuts with Queensland Premier League outfit the Brisbane Wolves.
The Solomons trio did not disappoint in their first outing, with Usumae netting the Wolves match winner in a 2-1 win against Mitchelton having come off the bench in the second half.
Usumae, who was a surprise omission from Alan Gillett’s Solomons squad that stunned Oceania in Adelaide, was joined on the substitutes bench by Samani, who has been a regular in the Solomons nine World Cup qualifying matches thus far.
Fellow countryman Konofilia played the whole ninety minutes for the Wolves and was the provider for Brisbane’s first goal in a match that has reaffirmed the Wolves title ambitions.
Opposing the Solomons were Vanuatuan pair Etienne Mermer and Richard Iwai, with the latter scoring Mitchelton’s only goal in the first half.
The loss leaves Mitchelton in fourth spot on the QPL ladder, 22 points behind superpowers the Queensland Lions, who have all but sealed the minor premiership with eight rounds remaining.
Also in Queensland, Taringa Rovers’ Papua New Guinean midfielder Alex Davani was an absentee from his sides 2-0 loss at the hands of Eastern Suburbs due to a knee injury that will sideline the Melanesian youngster for up to two more weeks.
Taringa sit in tenth spot following their loss at the weekend and will be hoping for a return to their winning ways when they take on Pine Rivers United away from home this Sunday.
In Queensland’s Metro 1 League, Fijian midfielder Raj Kumar was again a part of the Darra Lions juggernaut that has seen the league giants go each one of their matches this season without conceding a loss.
The Lions disposed of the Brisbane Wolves 5-0, which leaves Kumar’s team in first place after 14 rounds, 12 points clear of their nearest competitors.
There was also good news for Victoria’s pacific party, especially Solomon Islander Henry Fa’arodo who was apart of Fawkner’s most impressive win of their 2004 campaign, a 5-0 thrashing of finals contenders St. Albans away from home.
Although not amongst the scorers, Fa’arodo played a key role in the Blues second consecutive win that has given the proud club some breathing space as the dogfight to avoid relegation heats up.
At the other end of the table, the Preston Lions gave their title claims a boost with a crucial 2-1 win over the Essendon Royals at home on Sunday.
Samoan goalkeeper Pasi Schwalger was in goals for the Lions throughout the ninety minutes and will be keenly anticipating Preston’s top of the table clash away to the Bulleen Zebras next week.
In Newcastle, Fijian Esala Masi again fronted for a full game for South Cardiff in the Northern New South Wales Premier League, only to see his side go done 3-1 to Highfields Azzuri away from home.
Worryingly, the Gunners sit nine points adrift of fourth spot after ten rounds and will need to post vital wins against top two teams Edgeworth Eagles and Hamilton Olympic in the coming weeks if they are to revive their flagging finals ambitions. – By Ben Coonan – Australian Correspondent