Dear Editor – As usual, Solomon Islands soccer ranking keeps on sliding into the abyss.
SIFF officials over the years have been responsible for most of the demise.
However, FIFA, the governing body, bears a large responsibility for this predicament as well.
Improving soccer standard and ranking on the FIFA table directly depends on the number of games a national team plays and the strength of opponents.
There is a whole algorithm that goes into the calculation but the major variable is matches played.
The Oceania region does not have sufficient teams or plays competitive matches against higher ranked teams.
What FIFA should do is add Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), or split the AFC into two.
The lower half can have Australia and the South East Asian teams including OFC.This would ensure more matches and greater exposure to players from the OFC region.
If FIFA is really serious about promoting soccer, it would help finance the OFC teams participate in such a reorganised competition.
On its own, OFC is not going anywhere but into the boondocks, as are the talents it creates.
A radical thinking is needed as opposed to the same old tired arguments. A question needs to be asked is where in the world are we heading?
One would have thought that languishing on 192 out of 209 countries on the FIFA World Ranking was bad enough.
In fact it was embarrassing.
However, to drop further to go through the preliminary rounds against lowly football nations like Cook Islands, Tonga and American Samoa probably should take the cake so to speak.
What will no doubt frustrate soccer fans is the fact that it looks like it will take some time before there is any improvement to our standing.
New Zealand is on 144 and New Caledonia sits on 174 having dropped 23 places.
Tahiti is on 186, Vanuatu on 195 and Samoa shares 196 with Fiji and SOLO 192.
Tonga is on 201, Papua New Guinea on 202, American Samoa on 203 and the Cook Islands sit on 207.
It is a sad state of affairs and we wonder whether the governing SIFF have plans in place to nudge us out of this.
We talk about development in our game. We talk about the quality of players but, do we have the enthusiasm and determination to get ourselves out of the tail end of the world ranking?
Do we have the commitment to improve our position at the highest level?
Can we get anywhere closer to New Zealand, New Caledonia and Tahiti? Or is this it for Solomon Islands soccer? Are we destined to languish at the bottom of the table?
SIFF was founded in 1979 and became a member of FIFA in 1988.Organized soccer with the first record of international competitions dates back to early 1950’s with our first ever regional medals won in 1975 and 1979 in Suva and Guam respectively.
The team again shocked the football world in the 2004 Oceania Nations Cup (which doubles as World Cup Qualifying), tying Australia 2–2 to nip heavily favoured New Zealand for second place and a spot in a championship playoff against Australia is the best internationally recorded.
The question now is where do we head to now?
John Preecely Murite