With all formalities completed today the tournament is ready to go and organisers and the participating teams are looking forward to the kickoff. Some of the participating teams held their final training sessions this afternoon ahead of the start of the tournament.
Assistant coordinator for the Bilikiki Challenge, Joseph Boso, says that after all the hard work that went into the preparation for the tournament the pre-competition excitement has finally arrived.
“It has taken us some time to get this stage and we are pleased that the Bilikiki Challenge is ready to go. We are confident that beach soccer fans are also looking forward to the competition and we are hoping for an exciting 3 days of beach soccer. You can see in the teams training today that everybody is geared up for the tournament,” Boso says.
The teams in the Bilikiki Challenge were drawn into two (2) pools and the competition will be played in the round-robin format in the group stage which will be followed by the knockout stage. The top two (2) teams in each pool will proceed to the knockout stage with the group winners playing against the runners-up in the opposite pool in the semi-finals. The 2 Bilikiki teams in the competition were seeded into each group before the draws for the fixtures were done were done.
The first match is from Group A and will feature Bilikiki Sliders against defending champions Sokamora. This will be followed by a tantalising clash between Northern United and KOSSA. Another 4 matches are lined up for the day and the competition will continue on Saturday and conclude with the finals on Sunday.
The prize purse for the Bilikiki Challenge totals to $2500 with the winner set to walk home $1000 richer and with a trophy as a souvenir for their win. However, pride is at stake for a number of the teams and the prize money is expected to be only a secondary consideration. This is especially true for the Bilikiki teams in the competition who are looking to reclaim some pride after a dismal showing in the 2010 Bilikiki Challenge.
Team manager for the Bilikiki teams, Reuben Oimae, says that his boys have trained hard since August and they can win the tournament.
“I believe that we have the capacity to win this time. We have a very good training squad and the quality of the players is something we are really confident about,” Oimae says.
“We do not promise the fans anything but we surely want to win and if we play to the standard we are capable of in each of our matches we can grab the title.”
However, not everything will be going Bilikiki’s way weekend as some of their top stars may be out of the picture at least on Saturday when their national league club will be playing. Nicholas Muri and Ian Ngahugari, considered to be among the best beach soccer players in Solomon Islands, are key players in the Real Kakamora team which is playing in the Telekom S-League and it is likely that the duo will miss some matches in the Bilikiki Challenge.
This afternoon the teams were handed their uniforms which were sponsored by DJ Graphics Ltd. DJ Graphics Ltd. is the major sponsor of the event and was key in its formation in 2010. They also own the venue that is hosting the Bilikiki Challenge.
Group A Group B
Bilikiki Sliders Bilikiki Fliers
Sokamora MOI Popi
KOSSA Honiara West
Northern United Manihots
Day 1 – Friday 11/11/2011
10:00am 1. Bilikiki Sliders v. Sokamora
11:00am 2. KOSSA v. Northern United
12:00n 3. Honiara West v. Manihots
2:00pm 4. Bilikiki Fliers v. MOI Popi
3:00pm 5. KOSSA v. Bilikiki Sliders
4:00pm 6. Honiara West v. Bilikiki Fliers
Day 2 – Saturday 12/11/2011
10:00am 7. Northern United v. Sokamora
11:00am 8. Manihots v. MOI Popi
2:00pm 9. Bilikiki Sliders v. Northern United
3:00pm 10. MOI Popi v. Honiara West
4:00pm 11. Bilikiki Fliers v. Manihots
Day 3 – Sunday 13/11/2011
10:00am 12. Sokamora v. KOSSA
13. Group A Winner v. Group B Runner-up
14. Group B Winner v. Group A Runner-up
3:00pm 15. Loser Match 13 v. Loser Match 14
4:00pm 16. Winner Match 13 v. Winner Match 14