Solympics goalkeeper, Samson Koti, makes the cut along with defenders Emmanuel Poila and Willie Lamani in a true moment of pride for the players. Also making the team for the first time are Leonard Rokoto and Paul Hiri but the hottest name in the group is former Waitakere United striker, Gagame Feni.
“It is everything that I dream off,” says Rokoto who was a member of the silver medal winning team at the 2011 Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) U20 Championship.
“All I want is the opportunity to play in my national team and I really look forward to the experience. “
In a clear attempt to balance maturity with the vibrancy and tempo of the youth national selectors have come up with a team that is almost split fifty-fifty in terms of the young and the regulars. The regulars are led by captain Henry Fa’arodo Jnr. and Seni Ngava who are both massively experienced players.
Notable omissions from the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Nations Cup squad are goalkeepers Felix Ray Jnr. and Shadrack Ramoni. Also out is James Naka who has been replaced by Ian Paia who debuted for the national team in the 2011 Pacific Games competition.
Selectors dragged their way through a difficult fortnight as fallout from the non-inclusion of Judd Molea in the training squad threatened to overshadow the quality of the players that they selected. However, with the squad now in place selectors are hoping that they can have public support from now on.
Head coach, Jacob Moli, acknowledges that there never will be a national team that is accepted across the board but still calls on the public to offer their support to the new Bonito outfit.
“I want to appeal to the public that my panel has done its best to finalise this squad. Please support this team because it belongs to the country. We made our considerations collectively and we have the best choices regarding our top players,” Moli says.
Moli calls on all the players not named in the squad to continue working hard and not to give up their hopes to play for their country.
“We dealt with a lot of talent in the selection process and, unfortunately, some have been dropped, not because they are not good but because we want optimum players. My message to those players is to know that opportunities lie ahead and when the chance comes you must work hard to get your spot in the national team,” Moli says.
While the majority of the players in the squad are locally based several key stars are yet to join the team from overseas. Benjamin Totori who is with Wellington Phoenix on a pre-season tour is not expected back until September 4. Nelson Sale, however, is expected to arrive from Vanuatu this week.
Solomon Islands will open their FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign against Tahiti in Honiara on Friday 7th September. This match will be followed by an away clash against New Zealand on Tuesday 11th September.
Bonito 25-man squad
1. Samson KOTI (GK) KOSSA
2. Paul HUIA (GK) Solomon Warriors
3. Tome FAISI (DFD) Solomon Warriors
4. Seni NGAVA (DFD) KOSSA
5. Hardies AENGARI (DFD) Solomon Warriors
6. Emmanuel POILA (DFD) Solomon Warriors
7. Freddie KINI (DFD) Koloale
8. Nelson SALE (DFD) Amicale (VAN)
9. Willie LAMANI (DFD) KOSSA
10. Loni KARABA (DFD) Western United
11. Aleck WICKHAM (DFD) Western United
12. Mostyn BEUI (MFD) Koloale
13. Joses NAWO (MFD) Koloale
14. Leslie NATE (MFD) KOSSA
15. Jeffery BULE (MFD) Solomon Warriors
16. Jack WETNEY (MFD) Western United
17. Henry Jr FA’ARODO (MFD) FC Nelson (NZL)
18. Leonard ROKOTO (MFD) Western United
19. Himson TELEDA (MFD) Western United
20. Paul HIRI (MFD) Real Kakamora
21. Benjamin TOTORI (FWD) Wellington Phoenix (NZL)
22. Joe LUWI (FWD) Western United
23. Gagame FENI (FWD) Solomon Warriors
24. Joachim WAROI (FWD) Solomon Warriors
25. Ian PAIA (FWD) Koloale