The selection was carried out by a selection panel whose membership includes Noel Wagapu, Gideon Omokirio, Jacob Moli, Rex Masuaku and Batram Suri. The panel held an emergency meeting this afternoon to finalise the list before releasing it for broadcast to the public.
The final training squad consists of 27 including 3 goalkeepers, 8 defenders, 8 midfielders and 8 forwards. The majority of players in the squad are from Telekom S-League clubs with only Carroll Kakate and Emmanuel Poila being the exceptions. Kakate was contracted by Eastern Star of Papua New Guinea last year and Poila has not registered with any club since returning from Fiji.
Eleven players from the 2011 U-20 squad have made it this far but their place is far from secure according to head of the selection panel Wagapu.
Wagapu says that more hard work lies ahead for the players and no one has a confirmed place for the final team that will travel for the championship.
“Competition was tough during the first and second trials but it will become tougher starting from next week. Players must prove to us why they should be picked ahead of their friends by demonstrating their ability on the field,” Wagapu said.
Wagapu also explained that the plan to name only 24 players was scrapped after the decision to have an extra pool of players available for the head coach to utilise when making applying the final cut was made.
“We decided to have 27 players in the training squad to give the head coach more choice when it comes to picking the players for the final team. The panel will continue to support the selection process but the weight of the responsibility now shifts towards the head coach,” Wagapu said.
The identity of the head coach is not yet revealed as negotiations are still underway with the potential appointees. The SIFF executive committee will finalise any appointment before an announcement on the identity of the head coach is made.
Competition amongst the goalkeepers is expected to be the toughest and Shadrack Ramoni is the one with the upper hand against fellow selectees Silas Seda and Jimmy Qwaina. Ramoni is vastly experienced having represented Solomon Islands as a youth player including as a member of the 2008 Solympics team. In addition, Ramoni has also played for Koloale in 3 O-League competitions including the current one and is the current first choice goalkeeper for the senior men’s national team.
Israel Koti, a former LEARN&play student, is the only new face in the list of defenders while all the others have already played for Solomon Islands internationally. He faces stiff competition from the likes of U-20 captain, Michael Sira, and Hadisi Aengari to gain a place in the final squad. However, whatever the youngster lacks in experience is made up for in size and a great work rate which saw him move to Telekom S-League champions Koloale from Malaita Kingz after the first season of the national soccer league ended.
Kurukuru pivot Jeffery Bule leads the race in the midfield department but he is among the top midfielders in this age group in the country and may need to work extra hard to stay in the team. Also in the list of midfielders are Himson Teleda of Western United and Jeffery Henry of Hana.
Micah Lea’alafa, is currently the hottest young forward in the Telekom S-League and the other forwards named have him as their bench mark. The Kurukuru forward was impressive for Solomon Warriors in the first round of the 2011/12 Telekom S-League season and his competitors have their work cut out for them.
Preparations continue across the region for the qualifiers which will be held in Auckland. Vanuatu announced their training squad last week and it includes Jean Kaltack, one of the most threatening forwards in the pacific. Papua New Guinea have also named a trimmed down squad following their original call up late last year. Similar development are taking place with the Fiji U23 training squad.
The winner of the OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifiers will represent the region at the 2012 London Olympics.
1. Silas Seda – Solomon Warriors
2. Jimmy Dida Qwaimani – Real Kakamora
3. Shadrack Ramoni – Koloale
1. Freddie Kini – Koloale
2. Emmanuel Poila
3. Michael Sira – KOSSA
4. Ian Sida – Hana
5. Francis Lafai – Koloale
6. Michael Boso – Western United
7. Hadisi Aengari – Solomon Warriors
8. Israel Koti – Koloale
1. Leonard Rokoto – Western United
2. Jeffery Henry – Hana
3. Augustine Samani – Koloale
4. Molis Gagame – Koloale
5. Joses McPaulson Nawo – Koloale
6. Himson Teleda – Western United
7. Moffat Kilifa – Western United
8. Jeffery Bule – Solomon Warriors
1. Jerry L Donga – Solomon Warriors
2. Denis Ifunaoa – Solomon Warriors
3. Ian Paia – Koloale
4. Tutizama Tanito – Marist
5. Micah Lea’alafa – Solomon Warriors
6. Johan Doiwale – Real Kakamora
7. Karol Kakate – Eastern Star (Papua New Guinea)
8. Tony Otini – Hana