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Koloale qualify for third O-League

It was patience and experience that won the day for Koloale in what was a stunning comeback for the defending champions who were 2 – 0 down after only 12 minutes of play. The goal that sealed the victory itself was worthy of the O-League playoff and could easily be the goal of the season.
Solomon Warriors opened the game excellently giving Koloale a hard time to gain composure as they seemingly eased past their defence line with their quick passes and speedy forwards in their counterattacks. The result was 2 goals within the space of 4 minute in the first quarter of the game.
A lot was resting on Kidstone Billy’s shoulder going into the match and he was up to the task in the 8th minute when he scored Solomon Warriors’ first goal. Receiving a pass deep in the Koloale half, Billy side stepped his way past Samson Takayama and then Francis Lafai before sending his shot beyond the reach of Shadrack Ramoni.
The goal scoring magic Billy put on show was matched when youngster Dennis Ifunaoa slotted home Solomon Warriors’ second goal to see his side go in front by 2 – 0 in the 12 minute. Again it was a counter attack and the long pass easily found Ifunaoa who did well to overcome Takayama’s tackle leaving him with only the keeper to beat and he made sure he topped the contest by hammering a low shot past Ramoni’s right.
The Koloale fans were muted by the Solomon Warriors rampage and it took some time for their team to produce something they could be confident about. The Solomon Warriors defence line took a battering as Benjamin Totori and Joses Nawo apply pressure from both sides and their opponents were forced to rally from the back more often than they were comfortable with.
The turning point came in the 37th minute when Totori found the back of the net for Koloale’s first goal of the game. The break came from Totori himself who dribbled past Hadisi Aengari before releasing the pass to Lency Saeni who put the ball past 2 defenders where the striker was waiting and the rest was history.
Koloale threatened to draw the game level in the first half but Solomon Warriors denied them that opportunity time and time again while trying to ease the pressure on their defence by taking the ball out of their own half. However, the holes Solomon Warriors capitalised on in the earlier part of the game were patched up with 2 substitutes Freddie Kini and Gideon Omokirio who came in for Leonard Olea and George Suri respectively.
When the halftime whistle came the game was still in the balance and it was anybody’s game in the second half.
Koloale played more proactively in the second half maybe with the belief that they could still win the game. However, putting that belief into practice was a more challenging affair since the Solomon Warriors defence was no easy hurdle to deal with.
The men in green looked like they were going to get the equaliser in the 47th minute when Henry Fa’arodo Jnr. went down in the box after a tackle from Aengari (Hadisi). The referee, however, decided that Fa’arodo Jnr. dived and instead gave him the yellow card while giving the free kick to Solomon Warriors.
The equaliser came in 14 minutes after the break when Fa’arodo Jnr. set up Nawo with a clever pass that gave the flanker the opportunity to drive into the box and shoot from a shorter distance. Nawo timed his shot to perfection, waiting until Paul Huia was flatfooted before shooting past the goalkeeper.
Four (4) minutes later the goal that gave Koloale the outright win arrived. It appeared to be a harmless pass from Totori to Fa’arodo Jnr. considering they were forty yards out from the opposing goalmouth but the latter turned the pass into a goal when he curled the ball past Huia for Koloale’s third. It was the goal that electrified the Koloale supporters who could not hold back anymore and they upped the volume of their cheers.
Solomon Warriors tried to salvage the game by supporting their forwards and they had fine moments going past the hour mark but the goals just refused to come. Jamie Molea almost found a way past Lafai but fumbled at the last moment on the right and later Carrol Kakate could not catch up with a pass that left him with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Another goal scoring opportunity turned out badly when Billy was given his marching orders after receiving a second yellow card for a studs-up tackle on Koloale goalkeeper, Ramoni. Later in the game George Kwanae was red carded for kicking Fa’arodo Jnr. in the groin after Koloale midfielder tried to dribble past him.
Even with 4 minutes additional time fans already knew the result and most were already walking out of the stadium when the final whistle came.
Once again, Koloale are the champions and they will represent Solomon Islands in the next season O-League. It was an objective they themselves set after their final match in the last O-League and they have achieved it in style. Improving their record from the last O-League season may yet prove to be a more difficult undertaking for the former finalists.
For Solomon Warriors, it was still a proud season for them. They have been the only side to have defeated Koloale this season and they certainly made sure that the contest in the Telekom S-League was tight. Before the result this afternoon, many would have tipped their bets Solomon Warriors way but the outcome has not favoured them. However, they will be a club that all other participants in the Telekom S-League will be wary of when the second season kicks off in October.

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