Solomon Islands national U-18 futsal team coach Stanley Puairana is confident his young lads will compete at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The junior Kurukuru side is drawn alongside some of the world’s big name in futsal as the abbreviated football code set to make its debut at the Olympics.
Puairana knew what it like to play at the highest level when he represented the country in Solomon Islands’ first World Cup appearance in the 2008 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Brazil.
“I know from personal experience it will be tough for our boys but we are heading into the competition to compete”, the former Solomon Islands international said.
“We are presenting Oceania as champions of our region which is a bonus for us.
“The world stage is where all the best players come to compete so we will go there with the same mindset as a team.”
Featuring an array of talented young futsal players, the Solomon Islands will be in for a tough challenge against some of the top notch futsal nations on the world stage.
They are pooled in Group B which includes Brazil, Iran, Russia and Costa Rica where futsal as a sport is set take centre stage at the Youth Olympics.
Puairana said the team have been preparing for the Youth Olympics since November last year.
“So far so good for us as a team because we have been working very hard in preparation for the Youth Olympics”, coach Puairana added.
“I am very happy with how the boys reacted in training and we are now focusing on the tournament which starts this weekend.
“Every single player has been enjoying the atmosphere in camp and their effort on the court displaying some encouraging signs.”
The Solomon Islands youth team participated in the SIPA National Futsal League as part of their preparation.
“We have learned a lot in the national league as the boys played against senior teams.
“Despite missing our target to win the league our boys had improved their defense and playing as a team in our transition to offense.
“Finishing second in the league was an encouraging sign for us and these young boys will take so much confidence from it”, Puairana said.
Raphael Lea’i will be the player to watch after his impressive performances in the OFC Youth Futsal Tournament and the recent OFC U-16 Championship at home.
Lea’i won both golden boots at the Oceania level and the SIPA National League.
“Rafa is the star player in the team but there are other players like Calwin Do’oro, Lordick Afia and Franster Rukumana who could shine in Argentina”, Puairana highlighted.
The junior Kurukuru side will depart tomorrow and play their opening match against Iran on Sunday 7th October at Cenard Hall in Buenos Aires, Argentina.