BY ROMULUS HUTA
THE national soccer side jetted out of the country yesterday for Macau ahead of today’s international friendly showdown while another fixture awaits them in Suva next month against Fiji following confirmation by Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF).
Led by caretaker head coach Moses Toata and assistant Eddie Marahare, today’s encounter will be played at the Estádio Campo Desportivo in Macau.
Yesterday’s departure saw Toata and Marahare could only brought with them 15 players due to unavailability of five others namely Micah Lea’alafa, Andrew Rarangia, Jerry Donga and under-19 duo John Aeta and Patrick Taroga.
Lea’alafa was not unavailable for the tour due to club commitment in New Zealand while Donga was omitted from the squad in the eleventh hour for disciplinary reasons.
Aeta, Taroga and Rarangia were left out through visa problems.
However, the quintet is expected to re-join the squad upon return from Macau as they prepare for the Fiji tour.
Lone overseas-based player and veteran striker Benjamin Totori will captain the team against their Asian opponents.
Toata said the team have limited period of time to prepare for the international friendlies.
“To be honest we are not well prepared for the friendlies because we only have three weeks of training and for me it’s not enough”, he said.
Thus, Toata is taking many positives from the players’ involvement with their clubs in the Telekom S-League.
“The good thing is the boys are in a competition like the S-League and also most of the players we picked are experience international players.
“That’s why we based our selection on experience given the limited time to prepare.”
“Maybe for other friendlies matches or build up to the Pacific Games could be a different set of players,” Toata added.
“We know Macau is ranked lower than us but they are playing at home so we need to play our strong team against them.
“It’s very important to win the friendly since FIFA will consider the result for our overall ranking.
“We have confirmed to play Fiji in a one off international after the Macau trip.
“A positive result against Macau will definitely put us in a good shape ahead of the game with Fiji”, Toata stressed.
Meanwhile, the Bula boys, Fiji football side have moved into camp to prepare for the international friendly with Solomon Islands.
Solomon Islands last meeting with Fiji was a 0-0 draw at the Pacific Mini Games last year in Vanuatu.