Bouncing back from a heavy defeat is not easy, but Solomon Islands captain Henry Fa’arodo hopes the backing of the home fans will help lift his side’s spirits going into Leg 2 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Qualifiers – OFC Stage 3 Final at Lawson Tama today.
As a player Fa’arodo has experienced many ups and downs, but patriotism and a love for his country always helps him pull through.
“The best thing is to come back home and play in front of our home crowd,” Fa’arodo said.
“I think it will be a good experience for the boys coming in. They’ll be nervous but they’ll get used to it and I think the fans are looking forward to seeing Solomon Islands and the New Zealand professional side as well.
“So coming home will be a very good thing for the side.”
The Bonitos departed New Zealand within 12 hours of the final whistle on Friday and Fa’arodo admits that both mentally and physically a good 24 hours were needed to get over the trip.
“The boys are in high spirits now, and for us it’s about pride and going out with a bang.”
Playing in one of the most defensive structures we’ve seen from a Solomon Islands side in a while, the team were caught out by individual errors which Fa’arodo said don’t go unpunished at this level.
“It was individual errors which cost us the game in Auckland. We’ve watched the game and it could have gone either way,” he explained.
“But those errors, as we know in football, can cost us the game. But it’s something we’ll learn from and we will definitely be trying to avoid those errors again.”
The captain said the loss of Micah Lea’alafa for the first leg also put pressure on the squad, but the side are excited to have him back.
“We missed him a lot in New Zealand. We had a game plan involving him and when he didn’t come, we had to reshuffle stuff.
“I know he’s ready to fire up as well and give us the x-factor.”
Lea’alafa himself said it was hugely disappointing when he learned his visa wasn’t going to come through in time for him to join the national side.
“I was really looking forward to the first game and I was disappointed when my visa didn’t come through,” he said.
“But now I’m looking forward to the Solo game here and I will give everything.
“For me this game is a big one. I need to play with everything and I will give everything.”
With a statement like that coming from one of the side’s key players, it’s a strong call to fans to turn up and put their support behind the team.
“Just come out in your numbers, show your patriotic side,” Fa’arodo said.
“We’ve had the All Whites in Auckland but people know Solomon Islands is a football mad country and it would be good to see the fans come out and show that.”