By Simon Abana in Suva
Solomon Islands Futsal side sealed their place at the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Colombia after they overcome hosts Fiji 5-0 in the OFC Futsal Championship in Suva last weekend.
The Solomon Islands are heading to their third FIFA Futsal World Cup after they finished the round robin tournament three points clear of runners up New Zealand.
Speaking before the official presentation, Solomon Islands captain Eliot Ragomo echoed these statements.
“Colombia here we come!” an ecstatic Kurukuru captain Elliot Ragomo shouted to fans who packed into the stand to see the side collect their gold medals and the championship trophy.
“We’re just so proud to be here and to be going off to Colombia to represent Solomon Islands, Oceania, and each of the nations’ who took part in this competition,” Ragomo shares.
“The OFC Futsal Championship wouldn’t be what it is without each of the teams that took part, so thanks to all of you. And please, keep doing what you are doing back in your countries because it is an honour to play you, and we all need to keep working and improving”, he added.
With little preparation before the World Cup qualifier, expectations in the football mad nation were at a low key.
However, the Kurukuru boys answered their critics with a clean sweep winning all five matches.
The lads scored 23 goals and Goalkeeper Anthony Talo conceded just three goals.
The statistics saw Talo collected the Golden Glove award for the best outstanding man between the sticks, dual player George Stevenson claimed the Golden Boot for the Championships top scorer and captain Ragomo scope the coveted Golden Ball for the best player of the tournament.
“I’m so happy for my players and the management,” coach Juliano Schmeling says.
“This week has been unbelievable. When you see the story of the Kurukuru, these players are amazing and I’m so happy to be part of this historic occasion.”
The place at Colombia was a step away after the Kurukuru beats a strong Vanautu side 6-1 on Match Day 4.
But the contest against the hosts on the final day of the competition was the last lap to earn a place among the best in Colombia in September.
Fiji had proven against New Zealand that they were a side capable of causing an upset.
In what is said to be their best performance of the tournament, the hosts lost narrowly to the Futsal Whites 3-1 on Match Day 4.
Fiji begin the match on a positive note but conceded a five minutes goal as Ragomo led by example to score the opening goal.
Jack Wetney powerful drive one minutes later with goals from Coleman Makau and Robert Laua handed the Solomon Islands a 4-0 going to the dressing rooms.
Fiji dominated 45 percent of the ball position in the second half and should proud of conceding only one goal in second period.
Fiji coach Intiaz Khan says there are many positives his players can take from the game.
“It was quite an impressive performance. Comparing yesterday’s performance and today’s, we are here to learn and I think this competition has been successful for us in terms of where we stand,”.
His counterpart, Solomon Islands coach Juliano Schmeling, credited the home side.
“I would like to say congratulations to Fiji for the amazing improvement that they’ve had since Monday through to today. To the Fiji federation, and to this team in particular, just keep going. There’s huge potential in this Fiji team.”
Solomon Island domination of the indoor five a side football stress back to 2008 and they are heading to their third consecutive FIFA Futsal World Cup.
This report and pictures were filed by student journalists from Wansolwara newspaper at the University of the South Pacific.