SOLOMON Island Football Federation (SIFF) President William Lai says ‘It’s our dream’ to qualify for a FIFA sanction tournament as the country won bid to host two international tournaments next year.
The country is set to host the OFC Champions League Group D and U16 World Cup qualifiers in Honiara.
As hosts of qualifying tournaments in the past, Solomon Islands were closer to sealing qualification in the 2012 Nations Cup and other youth tournaments such as the U20 World Cup qualifiers where we finished as runner-up behind Australia on home soil.
The SIFF president insisted that being hosts, the advantage is on the home teams to deliver.
“As the President of football, I really want to see that we qualify for World club Or the U17 World Cup. It is our dream.
“It gives greater opportunity for our teams to succeed as we are at home.
“Therefore our clubs and national youth team must work extra hard to be successful with great determination and character.
“We can do it and make our country proud as a football nation. I see no reason why we cannot do it like what we Junior Kurukuru did in New Zealand.
“It is a challenge but also a great opportunity,” he stated.
Lai stressed in economic terms, hosting such major tournaments does have a major impact on the country’s economic growth.
“It provides an economic opportunity as we host other teams and fans around Oceania.
“It also gives a great challenge for SIFF to deliver a successful tournament with minimum infrastructure availability, but, all Solomon islanders are resilient people and we shall deliver a successful tournament with enthusiasm,” he added.
Meanwhile, the SIFF president has called on key stakeholders and the national government to support the national football governing body.
“We need great participation and support from the media, stakeholders and fans to bring an exciting event.
“Also we would like to see greater support from the government since the two tournaments next year are a real test before our greater demand in 2023,” Lai stressed.
Football will be one of the big tournaments of the Pacific Games come 2023 and hosting such football events next year is a step forward in the country’s preparation.
By SIMON ABANA