Solomon Islander Michael Fifi’i is thrilled to be back in his homeland, with his return coming courtesy of Samoan outfit Lupe Ole Soaga who will feature in Group D of the OFC Champions League this weekend.
It will be the midfielder’s first time playing on home soil since 2005, a 12 year wait that has been a long-time coming, he said.
“To me it means a lot and probably means everything in football to be coming home to play in front of my own people,” Fifi’i said.
“The OFC Champions League is giving me another opportunity to play in front of my people after 12 long years. The last time was with the U-20 national team back in 2005.
“It’s a special homecoming for me not just as a Solomon Islander, but as a footballer.”
Fifi’i and his teammates have hit the ground running with trainings at SIFF Academy and DC Park since their arrival on Tuesday.
Having come through the Qualifier, he knows that his side are very much underdogs but believes they can turn heads.
“I can’t wait to walk out onto the Lawson Tama pitch, but as a team our boys are looking forward to it.
“These boys are talented and Solomon Islands will be shocked to see the young generation of Samoans come February 25th when we play our first match,” he predicted.
Lupe Ole Soaga coach Paul Ualesi stressed that Fifi’i is an important member of the squad.
“For now Fifi’i is no longer a Solomon Islander, he is a Samoan now,” Ualesi laughed.
“Our brother Fifi’i is one of the most experienced and a really good character for the team.
“I think it is good for the boys to learn from him both on and off the pitch, and I think many locals will support our team because of Fifi’i.”
The OFC Champions League 2018 Qualifier runners-up Lupe Ole Soaga open their Group Stage campaign against 2017 semi-finalists AS Magenta at 1pm (local) at Lawson Tama Stadium.
Story by Simon Abana, Solomon Star