BY ROMULUS HUTA
THE national under-18 futsal team head coach says Raphael Le’ai is one of their biggest assets as they head into the final months of preparation for the 2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games in Argentina.
With a record of 34 goals from six matches hauled in during last October’s Youth Futsal Qualifiers in New Zealand, the youth futsal team head coach Stanley Puairana remains doubtless of the young lad’s abilities and believes that Le’ai can lead Solomon Islands further into the competition in October.
Puairana told SunSPORTS that Le’ai’s consistent eyes for goals has recently made him to be one of the country’s most-wanted players.
This follows his involvement with the current youth soccer side in the conventional (11-aside) code where they have also included him into the roster for September’s Oceania Under-16 Oceania Championship in Honiara.
“Raphael told me he wanted to play for both codes. But it is up to the management to make this decision.
“He is one of the country’s upcoming strikers at the moment and we must make sure the decision he will take or we will make favours him.
“Raphael will join us on our trip this month to Australia and upon his return; he will team up with the 11-aside national under-16 to go another tour to Japan in July.
“Raphael is an important aspect toward the country’s campaign in October’s Youth Olympic Games in Argentina and so as will carry the hopes of Solomon Islands during the Oceania Under-16 Championship in Honiara in September.”
Le’ai’s other two fellow team members also share similar situations. They are striker Frankster Rukumana and defender Leon Kofana.
The national under-16 soccer coach Stanley Waita said he would like all three players to join them in their training camp due to be held in Japan next month.
“They are some of our key players. We will need them to come with us to Japan.
“Solomon Islands want to qualify for the world and we need them,” Waita said last week.