Junior Kaoni has completely dominated up front for Solomon Islands throughout the 2017 OFC U-17 Championship, scoring the only goal New Zealand has conceded in the competition before sinking four goals against Samoa, but the humble 16-year-old can only express how grateful he is to be a part of the action.
“I’m so happy to be in this tournament. I’d like to thank my coach for what he’s shaped me to be,” he said.
“He is really good as a coach. He says to me ‘You can do it, I believe in you’ and the trainings are really good. I’m so happy.”
A young man of few words, Kaoni credits his five goals to the opportunities created by his fellow Solomon players and only wishes he could have contributed more.
“Against Samoa I would have liked to score a higher tally but four is good. I’d like to thank the boys and the team for creating the chances for me to score.”
Despite their big wins against Samoa and Fiji, Kaoni felt all three of their matches were a challenge for the striker, but he is grateful for being pushed to give his best by the international sides.
“I liked the game against New Zealand. New Zealand is a very strong team. Samoa was a hard game too, and Fiji was the same. Thank you to all these teams for our games,” he said.
With tickets to the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India at stake in tomorrow’s semi-final clash against New Caledonia, Kaoni is more determined than ever to perform at his peak and get his name on the score sheet.
“I’m ready to play New Caledonia tomorrow. I want to score at least two goals and I’d like to pick up Golden Boot in this tournament,” he said.
“I’m hopeful for the World Cup. We have a strong mind-set and we are ready to represent our country”
Solomon Islands will face New Caledonia for their place in the OFC U-17 Championship, and one of two places at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, in the semi-final at Stade Mahina in Papeete, Tahiti, at 4pm on 21 February (local).