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Solomon Islands Patrick Taroga aiming high

Patrick Taroga with the ball (OFC Media)

After playing a crucial part in Solomon Islands’ progression to the semi-finals of the OFC Men’s Olympic qualifier, Patrick Taroga has set his sights on going all the way to next year’s Tokyo Games.

The lively 19-year-old midfielder has showed pace, composure, plenty of determination as well as ability to finish in both of his side’s victories against Samoa and American Samoa helping the Solomon Islands U-23 side to secure one of the two semi-final places up for grabs in Group A, with a match day to spare.

Coached by Batram Suri, the Melanesians have scored 11 unanswered goals in two games and going into their final group match against New Zealand, in-form Taroga and his teammates are oozing confidence.

“We are aiming high and our goal is to qualify for the Olympics,” the midfielder insisted.

“I know it’s not easy, the Under 23’s are just below the senior national level so the competition is very tough, and especially with teams like New Zealand in our pool, and Fiji, Vanuatu and PNG in the other group it’s tough, but we came here to qualify for the Olympics,” he added.

Taroga had only discovered the joy of playing the beautiful game in high school, but once he caught the bug, football immediately became his passion.

“I started to play football at the beginning of secondary school by joining the school team, and that was the trigger for me to get serious about it,” he remembered.

“And my dream is to carry on with football, and someday maybe become a professional player,” the rising Solomon Islands star added.

Despite a relatively late start, Taroga quickly distinguished himself playing for Marist FC before signing for his current club Henderson Eels.

His international breakthrough came during last year’s OFC U-19 Championship in Tahiti, where he played a starring role for the Solomon Islands team.

The young midfielder was also rewarded with a call up to the senior side at the recent Pacific Games in Samoa before arriving in Fiji, as one of the key members of the Olympic team.

“Representing your country is a dream that most players want to achieve, and it’s a big honour for me,” Taroga explained.

Leading up to their clash against New Zealand to decide the final standings in Group A before moving from Suva to Lautoka for next week’s semi-finals, the mood couldn’t be any better inside the Solomon Islands camp according the young midfielder.

“Our morale is really high, we group and we bond together very well, and we are looking forward to all the remaining matches ahead of us,” Taroga said.

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