Solomon Islands forward Augustine Waita is optimistic about his country’s chance against New Zealand in the final of the OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifier despite a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the OlyWhites in the group stage.
He said it will be a different ball game compared to the group match as a place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic is at stake.
“So now, I am looking forward to the New Zealand game. I feel confident to take on them,” he said.
“Our first match in Suva was okay with me and the second I started to build my confidence over those games. But when we up against New Zealand I felt it was tough.
“I told myself, aye! This team is tough so I tried to read their game, so that I can step up my fitness.
“Taking on New Zealand again, we will have to improve on our weaknesses, such as defensive and try to build up to score. It was a bit cold when we played New Zealand in Suva now we will be playing at 3 O’clock game we will try out best to beat them.
Yesterday’s game I felt our performance was okay. I am confident that I will be able to give them a good run. I remembered our previous encounter with Vanuatu and told myself that this is the same team that beat us in Vanuatu.
Waita has scored five goals so far in the competition and is Solomon Islands’ leading goal scorer heading into the final.
He scored the crucial winning goal against Vanuatu in the semi-final. Waita was part of the Solomon Islands U-20 side that were beaten by Vanuatu in 2016 in Port Vila.
“So I tried to build my confidence to take revenge because they defeated us on their home ground so now we are both equal,” he recalled.
“We are both on equal ground. In my first game, I scored 2 goals. I was a bit happy to score my first goal, and I was delighted with my second.
“Against New Zealand, I missed one of my chance and I was so sad because I missed a golden chance to build the morale of our team. But then I scored yesterday, I was so happy with my goal and I am proud for my country”.
Like most of the Solomon Islands players, Waita started playing football in the islands with his school in Malaita province.
Encouraged by his brother Stanley Waita and former Solomon Islands international, Waita moved to the capital where his football career took off.
“I stayed at home and moved from my village to Honiara to do my form four. Then, my brother, Stanley Waita asked me to play for U-19 of Koloale so I went training with them,” he revealed.
“I was picked me for the U-20 to represent my country, I attended the trials and got selected to go with the team to Vanuatu. We reached the semi-final as well and we were knocked out by Vanuatu 2-1 against us.
“I played with the Koloale senior team, went back home for a break, then I went to trail with Henderson Eels in their HFA Premier League team, then I played in the S-League until I tried out for the U-23 and I made it into the squad to participate in this tournament”.