Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek

The Solomon Islands are a traditional Beach Soccer heavyweight who dominated the first three OFC competitions before being usurped by Tahiti in 2011.

The nation acquitted themselves well at several FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups but for the past decade have lagged behind Tahiti.

Coach Gideon Omokirio played in the original team and is a legend of Solomon Islands Beach Soccer. They took Tahiti all the way in the 2019 final which was an epic in which Tahiti prevailed 4-3.

Experienced players like Allen Farobo and James Naka return but Omokirio also has several youngsters in his squad.

Omokirio says they have had a strong preparation and are motivated by the chance to regain top spot in Oceania from Tahiti.

“Yes, we been training very hard for this. It’s an opportunity for us to come over especially I’m very excited to participate and compete in this tournament because we have some young players coming in the team as well, apart from a few old players, so we have a chance to get them over to try their best (to qualify) for the World Cup in Dubai.

“We have been talking about that before we came over (Knocking Tahiti off their perch). We know that Tahiti is a very tough team to beat, and they have been in the World Cup Final twice and we have been missing out a lot in OFC qualifying. But we have been training very hard and we will be trying our best,” he said.

Omokirio says the key for them achieving success is mixing up his team line-up.

“So, we try to mix the players around, we get the old players, especially the experienced ones, plus new blood into the team. So, we’ve tried to blend the mix for us to complement each other for this game. And we’ve been training on our physical and technical ability too to compete as well,” Omokirio continued.

“We have some up and coming players like Thomas Amasia who is technically good at all areas of the game. Ben Basi who is very strong as well and Iro Junior who is very strong. So those are some of the younger players who we really want to get into the game.”

Omokirio has a message for the legions of fans who will be tuning into the broadcasts back in the Solomon Islands.

“My message is that the Solomon Islands is well known for Beach Soccer in the past and now we go down a bit. We will try to get back that name and we need the support from all the stakeholders and the Federation especially to bring us up among the top sports in the Solomon Islands.”

Experienced campaigner James Naka is the oldest player in the side and he is pleased with the side’s preparation.

“We are ready for the tournament, there’s a new bunch of boys and we are excited. It’s not going to be easy for us but we will try our best and give our best this week. The fans back home are big supporters and we hope to give them a really good result.”

The Solomon Islands begin their campaign against Fiji in the first match of the tournament today.