Go back just a couple of years and Central Coast FC weren’t even playing in the top-flight of Solomon Islands football.
Now they’re potentially 180 minutes away from qualifying through to Oceania’s elite men’s club competition, the Oceania Champions League.
After winning the Telekom S-League last year, in just their second season competing at that level, Central Coast have earned the right to face perennial local heavyweights the Solomon Warriors in the Solomon Islands edition of the OFC Champions League 2022 National Playoffs, from which the winner will advance to the eight-team finals tournament later this year.
Qualification would add another chapter to Central Coast’s rapidly growing history book, which includes them winning the S-League in just their second year competing at that level, having previously played their way up through the Honiara competition.
Head coach Jacob Moli said victory against the Solomon Warriors in their playoff, which will see matches played on June 19 and 25, would be significant for the young club.
“It will be a huge boost for us to qualify for the first time. It would be an honour,” Moli said.
“The boys are very excited.”
But while his side can take confidence from having beaten the Warriors to the S-League title last year, Moli concedes it will be their opponents who are most comfortable in the high-pressure environment of a two-leg playoff.
“Solomon Warriors are a team who often go to this tournament, they know what they are doing, so it’s up to us to make sure we are up for it,” Moli said
“Most of my players haven’t played in this tournament either, outside of someone like our goalkeeper Philip Mango who has been very helpful with the team, talking to them about what to expect.
“We also haven’t been in a cup final type situation where it is must win, we are more used to a league environment, so that will be new as well.”
The first match at Lawson Tama Stadium on June 19 kicks off at 3pm local time, with the return leg on June 25 at the same venue and time.