After missing out on last year’s Telekom S-League title by two points to Central Coast FC, Solomon Warriors FC are eager to exact some level of revenge on their rivals by ending their Oceania Champions League dream this week.
The two sides will meet at Lawson Tama Stadium on June 19 and June 25, with the winner across the two legs qualifying through to the finals stage of the region’s top club competition.
It will be the first time they have faced each other since they went toe-to-toe in a thrilling battle for the domestic title, which ended in Central Coast winning the S-League on the final day of the season, just ahead of six-time champions the Warriors.
First-year Warriors head coach Franco Ne’e said it’s clear that the chance to get one back over Central Coast is a motivating factor for his squad.
“It’s about redemption after we lost the league to the Central Coast. The Champions League gives us a chance to go further in our journey together,” Ne’e said.
“It’s motivating for the boys and in our preparation I can see they are ready.
“The Central Coast team will be very different from last season, they have many players who have gone to Australia and places like Fiji, whereas we have the same players from previous years who have done well.”
While they got the better of them in the league, Central Coast have little experience in cup style matches like the National Playoffs, with even their coach Jacob Moli admitting the Warriors will have a big advantage in that area.
The majority of Ne’e’s men have both previous experience in the Oceania Champions League and at national level.
Warriors squad members Tigi Molea, Jerry Donga and Alvin Hou were all part of the Solomon Islands squad which made through to the final of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Oceania Qualifiers in March.
“We do have a good mix in our squad with lots of current and former national team players,” Ne’e said.
“A majority of our boys have been part of the Champions League for many years, so this won’t be anything too new for most of them.”