BY ROMULUS HUTA
THE newly-appointed Solomon Islands national under-16 head coach Stanley Waita is calling on football followers of this country to throw full support behind his youngsters.
This comes as the country is about to host the Oceania Under-16 championship in Honiara from September 8 to 22 this year.
The championship serves as a qualifier for next year’s 18th edition of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup where Oceania has been given two qualification spots.
The host country for the 2019 FIFA Under-17 World Cup is yet to be determined and will be made known soon by the world governing football body in the coming weeks and months. Three countries in the form of Rwanda, Kenya and Singapore are in the race at the moment to host this junior soccer event.
Waita said they need everyone’s support inorder for them to do well in the qualifiers here at home and qualify for the under-17 world cup.
“This is our time. This is our moment. We have the advantage of playing the qualifiers at home and our home crowd can help us get to where we want to reach with their strong support.”
In the preparation for the September qualifiers, a 35-member training squad was named yesterday by Waita in collaboration with the Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) technical department.
The squad was selected from the recent Youth Solomon Cup Under-16 held earlier this month in Honiara.
Waita along with his newly appointed assistant coach and former national captain Henry Fa’arodo have been assigned with the immense task ahead of leading the junior side into a possible first-ever and historic qualification for Solomon Islands to the global stage.
“We have the opportunity to qualify for our first under-17 world cup.
“The first task is getting the team together for training. We really need to work hard, it’s a must.
“There are big plans in the pipeline regarding our preparation for some upcoming friendlies to prepare the team before heading into the qualifiers.
“Before embarking on plans for international friendlies as part of the preparation process, we will be playing matches against the under-19 squad and other local teams,” he explained.
Waita also stressed that there will be a lot of pressure playing infront of the home crowd at Lawson Tama.
“There will be a lot of pressure especially from the public where they will expect us to deliver.
“All we have to do is to stay focus and concentrate on the important task ahead.
Waita said the training squad selected is not the final.
“The door is still open for other potential ones regardless of the list we have now. We want the team to be competitive,” he added.