Coming off the back of a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Macau less than a week ago, the Solomon Islands are going in hot for their second international friendly against fellow Oceania nation Fiji at ANZ Stadium this evening.
Despite having the benefit of an international match under their belt in this current FIFA Window, Solomon Islands coach Moses Toata remains weary of the threat Fiji can pose.
With Wellington Phoenix striker Roy Krishna making the trip home, as well as England-based Stoke City player Scott Wara set to make his debut for his native-Fiji, Toata knows the challenge will be greater than what his side faced in Macau.
“Macau is a lowly-ranked team, with due respect to them, and not as competitive as Fiji,” Toata stated.
“It will be a different ball game. We know what Fiji can do having people like Roy Krishna in the team, and now Scott.
“It will be tough but it’s something that we will try and prepare to strategise our game.”
Toata’s opponent, Fiji coach Christophe Gamel, is equally weary and believes the match Solomon Islands played against Macau could have an influence on this evening’s encounter.
“Solomons have been in camp for the past four weeks and already having played one international match has been a morale booster for them,” he said.
“I’m worried because we had a very short time to prepare as a lot of players also came overweight to the camp knowing that it is a key performance factor.
“I got Roy and Scott at the last moment and I will have only one session to fix them with this team.”
Despite some early reservations about the squad’s readiness, Gamel remains confident in his charges and their ability to produce results on the field.
“I have confidence with these boys because every time they give their best and they love their country,” he said.
Gamel expects one of the biggest threats to come from Solomon Islands veteran striker and captain Benji Totori.
The OFC Champions League’s leading goalscorer is certain to start, and has a good knowledge of how to score against Fijian opponents after a year in Lautoka’s front-line.
“We will have to face him,” Gamel said.
“He is a super striker who can eliminate anyone in a small space. We will have to answer to that collectively and I think we have a good defence too.”
Since taking the helm of the Bula Boys Gamel has recorded a win and two draws against Solomon Islands, including the nil-all draw during the Pacific Mini Games in Vanuatu last December.
Fiji and Solomon Islands meet this evening, Wednesday 5 September, at ANZ Stadium in Suva, Fiji with kick-off scheduled for 7pm.