By Taromane Martin
NATIONAL U-23 Head Coach Batram Suri has released his provisional list of 23 players for the 2019 OFC Olympic qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Fiji this September.
Two overseas based players are named in the squad alongside 21 Honiara based players following months of trials conducted by Coach Suri at the Solomon Islands Football Federation Panatina Academy field.
Coach Suri who qualified for Port Villa Premier League side ABM Galaxy for their first ever OFC Champions League told SunSPORTS the task of being a national coach is different compared to being a club coach and is honoured to be appointed head coach for the U-23s.
“I’m really happy to be given the chance as head coach for the national U-23. To me this is part of honouring our country especially after completing my playing career,” he said.
“When I learned about my appointment I was really happy and honoured to be given such a chance. The calls to be in charge of the national team are two different challenges the way I see it.
“Being in charge of a club is different from being a national head coach because the club deals only with that organization while coach for a national team is sort of dealing with the whole country,” coach Suri said.
Meanwhile OFC confirmed defending champions Fiji will be joined by seven other Member Associations with the winner securing the rights to represent OFC at the Men’s Olympic Tournament at the Tokyo Games in 2020.
In Group A, top seeded New Zealand will face fourth ranked Solomon Islands as well as Pacific cousins American Samoa and Samoa, while second seeded Fiji will need to overcome third ranked Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Tonga in Group B,” the statement read.
Coach Batram Suri’s 23 man Solympics provisional squad are as follows:
GOAL KEEPERS: Harold NAOANIA (Marist FC), Desmond TUTU (Henderson Eels), Joel NANAGO (Henderson Eels)
DEFENDERS: George LEGA (KOSSA FC), David JUNIOR (Hekari FC), Graham TANAVOLA (The Saints), Gagame AENGARI JNR (Solomon Warriors), William KOMASI (Malaita Kingz), Richard IROMANA (KOSSA FC), Alick KITALO (CY Strikers), John AETA (Marist FC)
MIDFIELDERS: John OGE (Sunbeam FC), Augustine WAITA (Henderson Eels), Thomas AMASIA (Marist FC), Frank KABUI (Malaita Kingz), Patrick TAROGA (Marist FC), Molis GAGAME (Western United), Rodney SURI (Henderson Eels), Steven MAELASI (Real Kakamora), Tuita MAEOBIA (KOSSA FC)
FORWARDS: Adrian MARA (Real Kakamora), Raynick LAETA (Henderson Eels), Darol KAKATE (Ba FC).