“It’s good to be back”

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Michael Fifii wearing the armband for his Samoan club Lupe Ole Soaga. Lupe Ole Soaga will arrive in Honiara today.
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Fifii returns to play at Lawson Tama after 13 years

BY ROMULUS HUTA

Michael Fifii wearing the armband for his Samoan club Lupe Ole Soaga. Lupe Ole Soaga will arrive in Honiara today.

WHEN Michael Fifii runs onto Lawson Tama turf at 1pm this Saturday in the opener of the Oceania Champions League Group D competition, this will be his first time in 13 years that the attacking midfielder will appear again in front of his home crowd.

Being one of the players that represented Solomon Islands in all age groups since the under-15 level in 2001, Fifii’s last appearance at Lawson Tama was during the Oceania Under-20 World Cup Qualifier semifinal against Vanuatu on 29th January 2005.

Fifii came onto the match as a halftime substitute and helped Solomon Islands posted a 3-1 win over their Ni-Vanuatu rivals in a match that was forced into the added extra-time.

In the Oceania Champions League Group D competition, the former dreadlocked poster boy for Team Wellington in the former New Zealand Football Championship (NZFC) now called ISPS Handa Premiership will feature for Samoan club Lupe Ole Soaga.

This comes as he captained the Samoan outfit to qualify into the Oceania Champions League after finishing as runner up in the preliminary qualifiers held in American Samoa last month.

Here in Honiara, he is being given that honour again to lead Lupe Ole Soaga in the upcoming group meeting.

Speaking to SunSPORTS from Brisbane yesterday, Fifii said he is proud to come back and play infront of his home crowd in this competition.

“I’m looking forward to this great opportunity. It’s been 13 years since I last played at Lawson Tama. I want to score goals and most of all would like to do better with my team.”

Lupe Ole Soaga will participate in the competition as an underdog taking on opponents such as AS Magenta (New Caledonia), hosts Marist and Team Wellington (New Zealand).

The match between Lupe Ole Soaga and AS Magenta at 1pm this Saturday at Lawson Tama will open things up in the Group D round of actions.

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Michael Fifii returns to play at Lawson Tama Stadium since he last played infront of his home crowd 13 years ago during the 2005 OFC Under-20 world cup qualifiers.

“The tournament is going to be tough for the team and for me personally. Already I’m having mixed feelings.

“Solomon Islands soccer fans always judge us players in different ways. But to be back playing here where I start my football career, it’s an amazing feeling.

“My people will always be my people and I will do my best to make sure they enjoy what they see,” Fifii, who was part of the Solomon Islands national soccer silver medal-winning team at the 2011 Pacific Games in New Caeldonia said.

After the first match this Saturday, Fifii and his boys will take on Team Wellington in their second fixture.

The match will be a reunion between Fifii and his former NZ club. Fifii spent three seasons with Team Wellington from 2009 to 2012 and capped 23 times.

“I had a very good season with Team Wellington years back and now I will play against them,” the 30 year old added.

Lupe Ole Soaga’s final match is against hosts Marist on March 2.

Fifii said he expects an exciting showdown with Marist.

“I think as a player I always have pressure with playing back home. Because we Solomon Islands people when comes to soccer always expect alot from players and for us players we always have that pressure to do well.

“But it is an amazing feeling to play in front of my people and in front of the country that loves this beautiful game.

Fifii will join his Samoan club in Honiara this afternoon as he is travelling on a separate route from New Zealand apart from his team mates via Brisbane while his teammates travel to Honiara this morning via Nadi.

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