Will play Tahiti in second semi on Thursday
BY ROMULUS HUTA
THE national under-19 soccer boys have made a clean sweep in their Group B campaign as they claimed a 1-0 win over neighbours Vanuatu in their third match of the OFC Under-19 championship in Tahiti yesterday.
The victory enabled them to finish the pool campaign at the top of the group remaining undefeated.
With nine points on their cards after three wins, they will play Pool A runner-up Tahiti on Thursday for a place in the finals.
A win against the hosts will see them earning a historic qualification into next year’s FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Poland.
Patrick Taroga was the hero for Solomon Islands yesterday with his lone winning goal against a determined Vanuatu side.
New Caledonia qualified alongside Solomon Islands from Pool B for the semis after finishing with a 1-1 draw against Fiji in the later match of the day.
The young Les Cagous will play Pool A winner New Zealand in the other semifinal.
Solomon Island head coach Batram Suri was excited with the well-earned semi qualification.
“The boys did very well to win the final match and finish at the top of their group.
“A win is a win although it’s 1-0. I’m very proud of the boys despite not putting up a good performance and managed to maintain our winning run right until the end of our pool games.”
Suri made a few changes from his usual line-up in yesterday’s match where he fielded in new faces onto the fray.
“I have seen some weakness in our forwards and came up with the changes.
“I also gave opportunities to my other boys so that they could have a game time,” he said.
The tournament is not yet over and Tahiti as the hosts, buoyed by their home fans has been described by Suri as a team to beat in Thursday’s semifinal.
“The boys are ready for the semifinal.
“Tahiti as the hosts will be tough given their supporters will be behind them. But we are here to challenge them and will not be going easy on them.
“They have their game plan. We also have our game plan. We’ll see how things go.
“I’m confident we can win the semis and qualify into the final.
“But overall, this is the stage that we’d very much wanted to reach and we are looking forward to it.
“A few of our players are nursing injuries at the moment and we’d very much want them to recover quickly as possible ahead of the semifinal.”