BY ROMULUS HUTA
THE national under-16 soccer will embark on another leg of their intensive preparation toward this year’s OFC Under-16 Championship when they leave on the plane July 25 for a 16-days trip to Japan.
The tour will see Head coach Stanley Waita bringing with him 23 players and another two officials.
Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) is putting a lot of seriousness and resources into this youth side’s preparation given Solomon Islands will play host to the regional qualifiers from September 9 to 22 in Honiara.
Solomon Islands was drawn in Pool A alongside New Zealand, Vanuatu, PNG and Papua New Guinea.
The top two teams emerging from the championship will qualify into next year’s FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Peru.
The primary aim is to have this young side qualify into the under-17 world cup.
SIFF President William Lai told the media earlier last month that the under-16 participation in the OFC qualifiers is one of their major projects this year.
“Our Executive has decided and believes that our gateway is Asia in terms of preparation and in terms of showing our best players to try to see how good we are. I think this is the most effective way of showing what we can offer to the world. It’s a definite excitement for us.
“The world cup is our target and aim.
“A dream can be fulfilled if we do the best we can to prepare our team.
“Let’s not just dream and not do something about it.”
Lai added that Japan has a very good standard in youth development and one of the best in Asia.
Over a course of two weeks, the team will engage in intensive training sessions and so as play friendlies against professional teams in Japan.
Details of the matches will be finalised either today or tomorrow, SIFF Media Officer Simon Abana stated yesterday.
The trip will also mark the beginning of their partnership and connection with Japan Football Federation.
“Japan is one of the top Asian countries in football. The trip is also an opportunity for us to establish partnership with them. If you understand, we have one Japanese volunteer working with us in the technical department. This is just the beginning,” Lai said.
The under-16 side is expected to return home after the first week of August.