By Sasha Pei-Silovo- EM TV, Port Moresby
Solomon Islands have selected a 29 member soccer squad for the upcoming Pacific Games. This follows a month of grueling trial matches, which included test matches against PNG’s Under 23 Team.
Over the coming months, this squad will be further trimmed to 20 players, who will represent the country in July.
Head Coach of the Solomon Islands under 23 men’s team, Patrick Miniti, announced the squad, now in training for the Pacific Games. Soccer at the Pacific Games will be played at the Under 23 level.
The squad, dominated by top players from the Telekom S-League, was named after several local, and international trial matches against PNG last month. The PNG U23 team drew 1-all with the Solomon Islands U23 national team.
The team’s management has expressed confidence in those selected.
This squad will be trimmed down to 20 players – with the final select side to travel to Port Moresby for the games in July.
Solomon Islands are looking to improve their performance from the Noumea Games in 2011, where they won silver in the soccer finals, losing to gold medallist New Caledonia 2-nil.
Miniti says he is happy with the training squad, but has warned players to not be complacent, citing the selection process was not over yet.
He adds that officials will be looking out for the best in the final 20 footballers, in terms of skills, fitness, and tactical ability.
In women’s soccer, the Pacific soccer queens, the PNG women’s team, can expect tough competition from rivals New Caledonia. The New Caledonia national women’s team are now in camp as they prepare for the 15th edition of the Pacific Games.
New Caledonia Coach, Kamali Fitialeata, acknowledges the potency of the PNG women’s side, adding that he is particularly mindful of the threat posed playing in front of a PNG home crowd. To counter that threat, Fitialeata says he is bringing his squad together every weekend to prepare for the challenge ahead.
New Caledonia was downed 2-1 by Papua New Guinea in the women’s soccer final at the 2011 games.