Three hunting for top honours - Solomon Star News

Three hunting for top honours

11 February 2016

OFC: The Solomon Islands’ Kurukuru has moved a step closer to Colombia 2016 after seeing off New Zealand, but the Futsal Whites and Vanautu are still on their heels as the 2016 OFC Futsal Championship moves into day four of competition.

The reigning champions have been clinical in their performances thus far.

They’re improving with every game played, and add to that this still young side has in its midst, Vanuatu will have their work cut out for them.

Like the Kurukuru, Vanuatu have also been making improvements to their strategy for each match and it showed against New Caledonia when they twice came from behind to eventually take the lead, and secure a 6-3 victory.

However they have been slow starters and they absolutely cannot afford to let their guard down against Solomon Islands because they will be punished – which Louis Dominique is fully aware of.

“Solomons will be tough for sure. They have a good coach and a good team and we will have to play better than them,” the Vanuatu coach said.

Coming off an important win it would be easy for the Kurukuru to take the foot off the gas somewhat, but Juliano Schmeling is determined for that not to be case for his charges.

“We have two games left and in terms of Vanuatu, they are improving with every single game. We are fortunate that Thursday everyone has a break because after three very strong games and Vanuatu up next it will be tough.”

The opening Match Day 3 game will see OFC’s two Francophone nations battle it out.

Both have suffered two losses but Tahiti’s morale boosting victory over Fiji and the nine goals that went with it, puts them in a good frame of mind going into the next encounter.

Tahiti used the fifth man power play to their advantage against Fiji and having worked hard at developing the tactic they will no doubt look to swamp their Caledonian cousins with it today.

Coach Jacob Tutavae was pleased with his side’s performance against Fiji and says it was a chance to show they’re more than just a defensive squad.

“I think the score against Fiji shows we’re a very good side on attack and defence. Although it’s disappointing that Thursday is a rest day because it would have been nice to continue with the momentum of our win.”

For William Bret the loss to Vanuatu was hard to swallow, especially as his side had started so well, and led twice.

“Tahiti is a very strong team, a very strong side. We saw their performances against Solomons and New Zealand and know what they’re capable of. If we can’t organise ourselves better than what we did yesterday, it will be even harder.”

The final match-up of the afternoon will see Fiji take on the Futsal Whites. No doubt they are hurting from their loss to the Kurukuru, the New Zealanders will need to lift their heads. New Zealand’s chances of qualifying rely very much on other results, but what they can control is their own performances.

Scott Gilligan noted some areas that can be tightened up – passing along the court being one of them – and he’s confident with improvement in these areas the Futsal Whites will remain in the chase.

He’s also not too worried about the players’ ability to bounce back.

“The morale is there. Right now they’re hurting but they’ll be ready for the next two games. I’ve told them we have two games to go and the cards may fall our way, you just don’t know,” he says.

“But we have to win those two to have a chance.”

Fiji have shown improvement in each outing at Vodafone arena, and while they show dedication and heart, and at times great skill, they are remain a little short of the mark.

Captain Mira Sahib is a game changer and a deserved consolation goal against Tahiti was reward for his contribution.

However it shows that he is the only player with experience of this level of competition.

“Against Tahiti was the first time my team played against the power play,” coach Intiaz Khan says, highlighting the lack of experience in the squad.

However, with a long term plan underway, this competition is one stop on a longer journey and the side continues to do their best to compete and learn as much as possible.

“To be honest I’m planning to change things and go for a win,” Khan says. I want to try something out and see if it works. I think we are well matched with New Zealand in terms of our style.”