By Romulus Huta
NATIONAL soccer coach Felipe Vega-Arango Alonso has confirmed that key attacker Micah Lea’alafa will not play in the first leg of the Stage 3 Finals of the Oceania World Cup against the New Zealand All Whites tomorrow in Auckland.
This follows the delay of the midfielder’s visa to enter New Zealand where he was not able to travel with the team when they left Honiara on Sunday.
However, the Spaniard said he had already worked out a replacement and at the moment he is not counting on Micah given the visa delay problem.
Micah is one of the key players in Alonso’s line-up and also a regular starter.
“Micah is not going to be here. I don’t think so. I’m not counting on him and I will have to switch one position to cater for his absence,” he said.
Alonso stressed that everything happens for a reason and Micah’s absence will make room for others to come out and show to the world that they can go on to the next level.
“I don’t think that the players see that as an opportunity because life is strange and everything happens for a reason.
“Maybe that opens up for someone to show to the world he can go to the next level. I think it’s going to be good for us,” he said.
The match this Friday will kick off 6.30pm (Solomon Islands Time) at the QBE Stadium and Alonso already knew what’s at stake going into the match and also what’s in front of them.
“The players have been training hard. I think they are concentrating a lot on the opportunity they have in front of them.
“They understand the game they are going to play.
“They understand they are going to play against a professional team.
“They understand it’s going to be tough.
“They understand that it’s a good opportunity for them to show themselves to all the coaches, to all the clubs and it’s also an opportunity to showcase their level of football because they are coming from an amateur setting. They want to progress and be better at football so it’s a great opportunity,” he explained.
Alonso added that New Zealand hasn’t lost a game in the region for quite a while and indicated zero comfort level for Solomon Islands but all they need to do is just step up and be positive.
The Spaniard had ruled out cold weather as an important factor to worry about ahead of the game but it’s the difference of the players in the two teams which really matters.
“Practice this week has been good because the most important thing was to adjust to the weather and to the field conditions and luckily it’s not been that cold and at this moment I don’t think the weather will be a too much of a factor. I think the important factor is the difference of the level of players in both teams. The weather, I don’t think it’s going to be too much,” Alonso stated.
The second leg of the Oceania finals will be played in Honiara Tuesday next week.