Solomon Islands national men’s football team faces an uphill climb to get back on track for the second stage of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) following their 1-0 defeat to Fiji on Tuesday at the Sir John Guise Stadium, Port Moresby.
Solomon Islands chances now depend on the outcome of their match against favourites, New Zealand and that of the match between Vanuatu and Fiji.
A win for them against New Zealand will be the perfect result to get them through to the next round of the competition.
However a win against New Zealand will not come easy as compared to that against Vanuatu.
Their other chance would be a win for Vanuatu against Fiji despite a defeat to New Zealand provided they lose with a small goal margin.
The game against Fiji was equally contested though Solomon Islands had a much greater percentage of ball possession and shots at goal.
Fiji had their golden chance of being awarded a penalty following what was described as a silly foul by goal keeper Samson Koti less than 10 minutes before full time.
Koti brought down Fiji’s striker Roy Krishna following a challenge for the ball at the edge of the box that resulted in a penalty which Krishna made no mistake slamming it to the back of the net.
Solomon Islands if had utilized their chances should have made a comfortable win with around two to three goals.
Most of their shots had no strength and others perfectly saved by the Fijian custodian and the strong defense.
Now Solomon Islands will have to face the fact that chances are quite slim for them and should be well prepared for their final group match against New Zealand’s, All Whites and hope for a better result in the game between Vanuatu and Fiji.
Head coach Moses Toata was disappointed over the defeat but vowed they take every game seriously.
“I’m a bit disappointed especially since we controlled most of the game.
“But then we slipped and got that penalty and it’s something we can all learn from.
“We will be looking to work on our errors and mistakes then we will watch the video of New Zealand.
“I think New Zealand played differently in each match.
“They have a lot of good players in their team but then so do we,” he told OFC media.
New Zealand leads the group with six points while Solomon Islands and Fiji share three points each.
The match between Solomon Islands will kick off at 8pm on Saturday.
By CARLOS ARUAFU