By CROFTON UTUKANA
IT is official that the country’s national Under-17 Football team will be heading to the FIFA U17 World Cup in Brazil, this September.
The good news came after a successful appeal was made by the Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF), against an Oceania Football Confederation decision.
Solomon Islands originally finished second in the 2018 OFC U-16 Championship, but was found by the OFC to have deliberately fielded overage player Chris Satu during the tournament.
As a result, they had forfeited all results and their place in the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
However, the decision to reinstate Solomon Islands as Oceania’s second representative was made following a successful appeal lodged by SIFF in March.
The good news was released yesterday, when the OFC Appeal Committee met to hear the SIFF appeal.
“SIFF has exercised its right to appeal the decision of the OFC Disciplinary Committee.
“At Friday’s meeting, the Appeal Committee upheld the appeal on the grounds that Chris Satu had a passport issued by the Solomon Islands government, which showed a birth-date within the U16 OFC Championship 2018 competition regulations,” the SIFF Media has confirmed, through OFC.
The national football body was being legally represented by Don Marahare.
Upon hearing the positive news, National U-17’s towering defender Leon Kofana can’t hide his excitement.
Kofana is currently in Belarus with the national U-17 team competing in the UEFA U-16 Development Tournament.
In an interview last night, he told Star Sports that it was awesome news for the young lads who have been working very hard and had created history for the country to make in to the FIFA World Cup for the first time.
“It’s a great news for us since we’ve been working very hard to make it to the World Cup during the qualifiers last year, in Honiara,’’ he insists.
On the same note Kofana said he will work extra hard in his own performance as he is now about to accomplish his dream to play in the FIFA World Cup very soon.
“I will work on my performance to ensure we are going to the World Cup with great determination that can make us all proud,’’ he insists.
The news has revived the once shuttered dream of local football supporters in the country and abroad, to see Solomon Islands competing in the FIFA Football World Cup for the very first time.
Meanwhile, the national U17 side is currently in Belarus participating in a four-nation UEFA Development tournament.
The team will take on Kazakhstan today, in the final clash of the tournament.
A win for them will see them topping the competition, if Belarus lost to Moldova in their match that will also be played today.
Like Solomon Islands, Belarus also won their opening fixture 2-0 against Kazakhstan and a win for either team is crucial to their ambitions of winning the tournament.
The UEFA development tournament is one of the stages of preparing European youth teams for the qualifying round of Euro 2019/2020, which starts in the autumn.
It is no doubt that the outcome of the SIFF appeal yesterday will be a morale booster for the boys, as they looked to end the UEFA Development tournament on high note, to prove their worth in the U17 FIFA World Cup on September.