Solomon Islands national U16 men’s football team has made an impressive start in the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) U16 championship currently underway in Honiara.
They defeated Papua New Guinea (PNG) 5-0 at the Lawson Tama Stadium on Sunday.
The national U16 futsal star player Raphael Lea’ai scored a hat trick to give his side the lead before the break.
Chris Satu extended the lead later in the second half before Lea’ai added the fifth goal, making it his fourth goal of the tournament.
Head coach Stanley Waita said they started a little late to play according to the game plan put in place however, he was impressed for a win in the opening group match.
“I’m happy with the win because it puts us in a good position.
“It is very important to win so that we go in line with New Zealand, the tournament’s favorites.
“We started off late; our high intensity game plan did not work out well, but we picked up later into the match.
“Before the game we were confident of winning the match but we just had to be patient.
“I would like to thank PNG team for a good match.
“We learn a lot from the match which is a bonus we will take into the next match,” he said.
Large number of spectators that watched the match have acknowledged the boys for their outstanding performance.
Solomon Islands will take on New Zealand in their group match on Wednesday.
PNG coach, Anthony Pakakota said playing on Solomon Islands home turf in a wet weather is partly a contributing factor to their defeat.
He added his side was slow to recover and tightened the defense thus created gaps giving Solomon Islands their scoring chances.
“First games are always very important to win in such big tournament like this.
“We did not start well; they caught us a lot out right and back inside again.
“We were a bit too slow in recovery in the defense, we tightened the defense in the second half so we were a bit more competitive unfortunately we did not get any goals,” he said.
The PNG U16 side will take on Vanuatu for the second group match.
Meanwhile matches set fir today will feature Fiji and Samoa at 10am followed by Tahiti and New Caledonia at 3pm. All matches will be played at Lawson Tama.
By CARLOS ARUAFU