Solomon Islands midfielder Frank Kabui is confident that the Melanesians will replicate the group stage performance against New Zealand in the final of the OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifier in Lautoka on Saturday.
Despite the 4-2 defeat to New Zealand, Kabui displayed calm and coolness in the middle of the park in their first encounter with the OlyWhites.
“We are hoping to just defend New Zealand in the upcoming final. Because we already know their style of play. How to play them, their strengths, we are familiar with already,” he said.
“So hopefully, for us boys, we will match them with the same strength we showed during our last encounter and maybe just to try and control them”.
Playing a key role in the Solomon Islands attacking moves, Kabui was instrumental in the semi-final win against Vanuatu with his assist to Augustine Waita’s match-winner.
However, the midfielder insists it was not his best performance.
“All the boys were prepared for the win we had. We had such high hopes that we gave it our best shot,” he insisted.
“My performance today was a bit low, I felt it wasn’t my best, it’s not my usual performance.
“Vanuatu put us under so much pressure that we just don’t have time to play the ball well”.
Just 18 years of age, Kabui’s rise to the Solomon Islands national team set up has an interesting tale to it.
In 2017, he captained the Malaita eagles winning side at the Youth Solomon Cup that also featured current Solomon Islands U-17s captain Charles Mani.
The soft-spoken lad made his first international appearance in last year’s OFC Men’s U-19 Championship where Solomon Islands were defeated in the semi-finals by Tahiti to miss a spot in the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
“My first time to visit Honiara town I got selected into U-19. I haven’t been playing much back then just straight from home,” he revealed.
“It was a surprise for me to be selected into the U-19 squad we went to Tahiti for that tournament”.
After his outing with the U-19 team, Kabui helped Malaita Kingz finish fourth in the Solomon Islands top tier.
“Upon my return, Malaita Kingz team got me to play for them in the S-League last year. I kept playing for them,” he added.
“When the call came for the U-23 selection I was included again. These international exposures gave me the confidence to play at these types of games”.