Goalkeeper Philip Mango remains ambitious despite his dreams of reaching the FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand ending on Tuesday.
But the Solomon Islands U-20 skipper and goalkeeper remains proud of his side’s efforts despite the results.
He can hardly contain his joy at leading his national team.
“It’s a privilege for me and when Commins told me I was skipper I was very happy.
“It’s my first time to lead a team,” he said.
While the team has struggled to hit the back of the net, Mango admits his handling error against Papua New Guinea hurt on a personal level.
“I took the mistake I made in the first game and tried to gain confidence for the second match.
“I got my glove onto the ball but it slipped through. I always look forward to playing in the next game it is the best way to come back,” he said.
But while goalkeepers make mistakes, they become glaring if your team doesn’t score at the other end of the pitch.
Mango says the game is all about scoring goals and Solomon Islands need to do more of it.
“The boys have played well but our finishing needs to improve so we can get points.
“Our families are proud for us and qualifying for the FIFA U-20 World Cup would have made history for our country.
“Unfortunately, that can’t happen now,” he said.
All players model their game on their heroes and Mango identifies two men he looks up to as his career begins to unfold.
“Iker Cassillas – he is the number one goalkeeper in the whole world.
“I didn’t have the privilege to watch the UEFA Champions League final between Real Madrid and Atletic Madrid, but my favourite team is Real.
“I admire Shadrock Ramoni, the Solomon Islands national team goalkeeper, a lot. I get a lot of knowledge from Shadrock and he is a good trainer for me, I respect him a lot,” he says.
Amidst the disappointment of elimination, Mango says the spirit in the camp has remained constant throughout a difficult campaign.
“Our team atmosphere is good and we have some good players in the squad.
“Dunstan Quanafia is good for us as a player but also tells jokes which make the boys laugh and its good,” he says.
The Solomon Islands U-20 are out of the running for New Zealand 2015, but the future looks bright for the 185cm Mango.
He shares his ambitions freely and the Western United shot stopper has his eye on Ramoni’s spot one day.
“I trained with the Bonito team in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers, that’s why I’m captain for the U-20.
“But my ambition is to one day play in the OFC Champions League and for my country,” he says.
Solomon Islands next match is with American Samoa at ANZ Stadium today.