The Solomon Islands national futsal team, the Kurukuru, pushed their Australian counterparts the Futsalroos to the limit across two friendlies over the weekend, narrowly losing 4-3 and 3-2.
The two matches proved excellent preparation for the Solomon Islands ahead of the 2019 OFC Futsal Nations Cup which gets underway in New Caledonia later this month, with Australia also gearing up for their own qualifier in Vietnam also at the end of the month.
The narrow scoreline against a strong contender for one of the Asian Football Confederation berths at the FIFA Futsal World Cup showed the Kurukuru are in-form ahead of the defence of their Oceania title.
Adding to the spectacle of the second match was the surprise appearance of former Kurukuru Jack Wetney. Now based in Australia, the talented futsal player has not been included in the squad for the qualifier, but showed he hasn’t lost any of his talent or flair after making a second half appearance at Valentine Sports Park in Sydney.
Wetney was a member of the first Solomon Islands futsal world cup squad and remained a familiar face in the squad right through to the 2016 edition in Colombia.
“I owe my career to the people who helped me in this game. My two favourite coaches, Victor Waia and Dickson Kadau. Thank you Eddie Omokirio for introducing the game of futsal too with Pastor Brian of Dural Baptist church,” Wetney said.
Kurukuru head coach, Vinicius Leite, phoned Wetney and asked him to feature in the match as a mark of respect for a player who has contributed a lot to the national team over the years.
“Tonight was special because I am not really in the best shape but the coach showed me great respect and allowed me to feature. I am so humbled by this call up,” Wetney said following the match.
“I think the boys are on another level and I am believe without a doubt that these guys will qualify for the world cup. The team is full of fighters. Last time, we have amazing teams but only some were fighting. The current boys are all fighters. I’m impressed indeed.”
Wetney also indicated there’s a chance we could see him make a more official return to the squad.
“I will train and wish the boys all the best in the qualifiers. If we qualify, I will see how I go with fitness and stuff, I will come and train with the team. I feel like one more world cup is in me but depends entirely on how well I get myself prepared,” Wetney stated.
The Solomon Islands will play Tahiti, Fiji and Tonga in Group B of the OFC Futsal Nations Cup in New Caledonia later this month.
Additional reporting: Alex Waimora