Photo Credit: SIFF Media

As we build towards kick-off at the OFC Men’s Champions League 2024, OFC takes a look at the eight teams looking to lift the trophy in Tahiti. Today it’s the turn of Solomon Islands representative Solomon Warriors FC.

Solomon Warriors scored the opening goal at the Luganville Soccer City Stadium in the opening match of last year’s OFC Men’s Champions League in Vanuatu to stun defending champions Auckland City FC.

They would eventually lose 3-1 but the team showed enough to suggest they may be a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, a defeat by Suva FC in their final group match sent the Solomon Islands team home earlier than expected.

It’s something coach Franco Ne’e, who was at the helm 12 months ago, is desperate not to repeat this month.

“Yes, definitely, I have a stronger team for this year and am optimistic we can make a difference and qualify for the semi-finals,” Ne’e said.

The Solomon Warriors were involved in a tightly contested OFC National Playoff against Central Coast FC in February. They narrowly won the first leg 1-0 away from home, before enduring some nervous moments in a tense 1-1 draw in the return leg at home.

The bulk of last year’s squad are back, and the side has been boosted by new signings, including Japanese import Kohei Matsumoto, the 34-year-old defender having played most recently for Hamilton Wanderers in New Zealand. The Warriors are also bolstered by the signing of Gagame Feni and Molis Gagame who were with Kossa FC last year but have chosen to sign with their boyhood club.

“Gagame Feni will be a key player. He has been instrumental in the Play0ff and I’m keen to see him going for one last run this season,” Ne’e said.

The Solomon Warriors are in Group A in Tahiti, alongside Papua New Guinea’s Hekari United, Fiji’s Rewa FC and defending champions Auckland City FC.

Player to Watch

Norman Winford is a key weapon for Solomon Warriors and showed flashes of brilliance in last year’s competition. A year on, he’ll be looking to make an even bigger impact.

“He has more experience and is more mature,” Ne’e added