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Totori is the all-time leading goal scorer in the Oceania champions league

BY ROMULUS HUTA

SOLOMON Islands talisman Benjamin Totori heads into this year’s Oceania Champions League as the competition’s all time highest leading goal scorer.

Since debuting in the 2006 Oceania club championship with former New Zealand top club Youngheart Manawatu, Totori currently has a total of 17 goals under his belt so far ahead of Auckland City’s Ryan De Vries’ 14 goals.

Fijian striker Osea Vakatalesau is third with 13 goals; Emiliano Tade of Auckland City is fourth with 12 goals while another two Solomon Islanders in the form of Micah Lea’alafa and James Naka occupies the fifth spot with 11 goals each.

Totori gathered the 17 goals across 41 Oceania club champions league appearances since the 2006 edition where he finished the competition as the golden boot winner.

Apart from being the top leading goal scorer, his 41 caps across all oceania championship editions is also second highest to De Vries’ 44 caps.

Totori will feature for Fijian champions Lautoka Blues in this season of the Oceania Champions League.

Lautoka was drawn in Group C against Auckland City, AS Venus and Madang FC. Their matches will get underway in Auckland from February 25.

Fiji media reports that Totori is getting fitter everyday as they approach the hit-out in Auckland next two weeks.

And it is highly likely that he will continue with his exploits by mesmerising soccer fans with his pacey electrifying runs when they take on Madang FC in their opener on February 25.

Apart from this Oceania feat, he also holds the record for most goals in a season in New Zealand when he found the back of the net 24 times with Young Heart Manawatu in the NZFC 2006/07 season.

Given the impressive stats, Totori said he has come along with the goals and he hopes he can score more goals for Lautoka to increase his tally this year.

“If I have the chance to score, then I would like to increase my tally to go beyond what I have now,” he told SUNSPORTS.

Meanwhile, Totori is one of the most profiled footballers Solomon Islands had ever produced, joining in the ranks of late Commins Menapi, Batram Suri and Henry Fa’arodo to name a few.

Having featured for top clubs in New Zealand such as Manawatu, Richmond Athletic and Waitakere, in 2008, the small but speedy striker moved abroad to United States of America, breaking into the lucrative American soccer market by signing with the Portland Timbers after impressing New Zealand-born coach Gavin Wilkinson.

Totori’s stint with Portland did not last beyond three matches as he returned to New Zealand after injury cut short his career in the American Soccer League.

He joined Koloale FC in Honiara in 2010 after another successful spell in New Zealand. He immediately ended up top goalscorer in the Telekom S-league, netting 23 goals in only 19 matches.

On 19 June 2012, after an impressive performance in the Oceania Nations Cup playing for the Solomon Islands senior side, Totori had signed a one-year deal with Hyundai A-League club Wellington Phoenix where he made 17 appearances, marking his debut against Del Piero-captained Sydney FC.

From 2014 until 2017 he played in the Telekom S-League with Western United before moving to join Lautoka last month for the Oceania champions league Group B competition.

STATS

Most Goals

Benjamin Totori (17), Ryan De Vries (14), Osea Vakatalesau (13), Emiliano Tade (12), James Naka (11) and Micah Lea’alafa (11)

Most Caps

Ryan De Vries (44), Benjamin Totori (41), Malakai Tiwa (38), Koriak Upaiga (36), Nelson Sale (35), Jone Vesikula (32)

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