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Solomon Islands performance in Qatar attracts Australian interest

Solomon Islands celebrate scoring against Papua New Guinea at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Oceania Qualifiers. Photo. OFC Media.

The impressive performances of Solomon Islands players at the recent FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Oceania Qualifiers caught the eye of many, with several members now looking to earn professional contracts in Australia.

In fact, one player has already been successful in his own bid for an Australian deal.

Solomon Islands reached the final of the qualifying tournament in Qatar in style. Their exciting brand of football saw them beat Cook Islands 2-0 and Tahiti 3-1 in the opening round and then hold off Papua New Guinea 3-2 at the semi-final stage.

In the end they lost 5-0 in the final to New Zealand, but nine of Felipe Vega-Arango’s side are now looking to earn professional deals in Australia.

The players currently trialling, according to the Solomon Star, are captain Micah Lea’alafa, Ian Kalu, Don Keana, Atkin Kaua, Javin Wae, William Komasi, Carlos Liomasia, Junior David and Prince Tahunipue.

The nine players are  basing themselves in Queensland for the time being with trials said to be being arranged with several clubs across the country.

A tenth player, Ali Mekawir, headed to Adelaide for his trial. He has now signed a deal with Adelaide City, defending champions in the National Premier League South Australia.

It is also reported that three other players, including their top-scorer in Qatar, Raphael Lea’i, were invited to stay in Australia to undergo trials as well. Unfortunately, Lea’i and two others, imposing centre-back Leon Kofana and winger Alvin Hou, had to head back home to recover from minor injuries.

It should come as no surprise that Lea’i’s performances caught the eye of potential professional suitors. The forward joint-led the scoring charts in Qatar until New Zealand’s Premier League striker Chris Wood went clear in the final.

After that game, Solomon Islands boss Vega-Arango touched on the topic of Lea’i potentially having trials elsewhere, even suggesting he would speak to clubs in his native Spain about the talented teenager.

“If I was him, I would not go for a trial if I am honest with you,” Vega-Arango told the press.

“You must offer him something. He has proved what he can do.”

Whilst the Solomon Islands may have come up short in the final of the Oceania Qualifiers it is now clear their performances in Qatar have caught the eye of those watching on from afar.

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