Bilikikis leave for nation’s cup

Members of the national Bilikiki beach soccer team that left the country on Thursday. PICTURE SIMON ABANA.
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“We need to concentrate on what we can do”: Omokirio

By Taromane Martin

Members of the national Bilikiki beach soccer team that left the country on Thursday. PICTURE SIMON ABANA.

SOLOMON Islands Beach Soccer national Head Coach Gideon Omokirio says they will do their best at the OFC Beach Soccer Nations Cup next week.

The national beach soccer team, dubbed Bilikikis left the country with a 12 man squad yesterday for the competition which will kick three days’ time in Tahiti.

The players are: Fred Hale (GK), Izomo Bird (GK), Anthony Talo, Kevin Koipala, James Naka (C), Nelson Sipolo, Nicholas Muri, Thompson Pete, McPhilip Aisah, Allen Fa’arobo, Roy Mafane and Max Fa’ari.

The Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) said the Bilikikis will travel through Brisbane before heading to Tahiti where the competition will be held.

Coach Omokirio says they have been working hard for this competition but knows the tournament will be tough with the likes of two time FIFA Beach Soccer finalists Tahiti and Vanuatu also seeking qualification for the World Cup.

“We have been working hard in training for the OFC Beach Soccer Nations Cup and I believe my boy has what it takes to compete in Tahiti,” he said.

“There are a couple of experienced players in the team like James Naka, Nicholas Muri and Fred Hale who will be leading by example for the new boys.

“It will be tough especially against the hosts Tahiti who were our main rivals in past tournaments; we need to concentrate on what we can do rather than what other teams could do to us.

“A team to watch in the competition is Vanuatu and New Caledonia. We will do our best to represent our country out there no matter what happens in the next few weeks in Papeete,” Gideon Omokirio said.

Meanwhile the tournament in French Polynesia will see New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu joining defending champions and two-time World Cup runners-up Tahiti to compete for regional supremacy and for a spot in the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Paraguay 2019.

With double-headers scheduled over six consecutive match days, each of the five participating teams will face each other once in a round robin format before the final and the third-place play-off to conclude the competition.

OFC Competition Director Chris Kemp says the tournament will be a fantastic opportunity for the beach soccer mad nation to showcase the game across Oceania.

“With the best talent from the Pacific on display we are expecting a very high level of competition and plenty of entertainment for the fans.

“We are confident that Tahiti, which distinguished itself on the global stage both by reaching two World Cup finals and by hosting the successful 2013 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, has the necessary infrastructure and experience to deliver a top class event which we are all very much looking forward to,” said Kemp.

Schedule for the 2019 OFC Beach Soccer Nations Cup which will kick off Monday next week in Tahiti are as follows:

Match Day 1 – Mon 17 June

New Caledonia vs Solomon Islands

Tahiti vs Vanuatu

Tonga – Bye

Match Day 2 – Tue 18 June

Vanuatu vs Solomon Islands

Tahiti vs Tonga

New Caledonia – Bye

Match Day 3 – Wed 19 June

Solomon Islands vs Tonga

Vanuatu vs New Caledonia

Tahiti – Bye

Match Day 4 – Thu 20 June

Tonga vs New Caledonia

Solomon Islands vs Tahiti

Vanuatu – Bye

Match Day 5 – Fri 21 June

Tonga vs Vanuatu

New Caledonia vs Tahiti

Solomon Islands – Bye

Match Day 6 – Sat 22 June

3rd Place Play-Off