‘Snake Man’ Kiriau pays tribute to fallen comrade Late Waeta
BY ROMULUS HUTA
FORMER national soccer striker George Kiriau famously known to many as ‘Snake Man’ has described his former national team mate, the late Danny Waeta as a true mentor.
Late Waeta, a former left wing forward for the Solomon Islands national men’s soccer team passed away in Honiara Monday evening.
In a tribute to his fallen comrade, Kiriau said Late Waeta was one of their senior players back then who always give him advice of confidence.
“He’s a man of good footballing character who always plays his hearts out on the left wing. He’s such an athletic footballer who never backs down whenever he loses possession
“When I first joined the national senior side in 1991 for the South Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea (PNG), Waeta was one of the senior players in the team.
“As a senior player, he gives me advice and helped moulded me to a better striker,” Kiriau explained.
Recalling the 1991 South Pacific Games, Kiriau said they partnered upfront together.
“Late Danny played on the left wing with his usual number nine jersey.
“We have a good combination upfront with me, Danny and Dudley Natei. Our movement patterns during attacking have a particular language where we speak which is the Kwara’ae language.
“We have been practising our movements and at some points became perfect.
“During the semi-final match against New Caledonia, one of the moves in training worked according to plan when I met a through ball pass sent by Charles Ashley on the 22 meter line. Instead of stopping it there to attempt for a shot, Danny shouted to me in Kwara’ae language and I made a dummy. Danny didn’t wait upon receiving the ball but shoot to score from the long distance with his left foot.
“We won that semifinal match 4-1 and qualified into grandfinal where we eventually lost to Fiji on penalty shootout after drawing 1-1 in fulltime,” Kiriau, who used to play for Police FC in the domestic Honiara Super League back then expressed.
Kiriau added Waeta was a true leader when going on international assignments to represent Solomon Islands.
“Before the tournament began in PNG, Waeta told us to avoid fouls and play fairly according to the FIFA Laws of the Games targeting the Fair Play Award.
“We listened to his advice and somehow nailed it by the end of the tournament.
“Solomon Islands received the fair play award after receiving only one yellow card through striker Dudley Natei.
“I think overall we did well and thanks to people like Late Danny Waeta who played instrumental role in our silver medal won in PNG 1991.”
In concluding his tribute, Kiriau, who was the striker who scored the lone winning goal via a header in the victory match of the 1994 Melanesian Cup in Honiara against Fiji, said Solomon Islands need more footballers like Late Danny.
“We need more passionate footballers who have strong winning mentality like Danny. Back in those days, we played with passion with no big money involved and we managed to produce some of the best results ever,” Kiriau added.
Meanwhile, late Waeta represented Solomon Islands for 10 years and played club football for decades with home club Rangers before retiring in 2000.