Solomon Islands have taken a huge stride towards the semi-finals of the OFC U-19 Championship with a hard fought 1-0 win over Fiji at Stade Pater this evening.
The national U-19 side had to dig a little deeper in their game against the much physical Fijian side but they manage to come through with a special winning goal in the 89th minute.
The Batram Suri coached side was indeed a mixture of hard-working players and very efficient defenders who battled with their Fijian opposition till the final whistle.
The match which seemed like heading to a goalless encounter was actually changed dramatically by a beautiful worked goal from Tuita Maeobia, thanks to a wonderful team play on a counter attack and brilliant assist from Junior David.
Solomon Islands line-up for the match was the same one in their first hard-fought victory over the determined New Caledonia side two days ago.
However, as the game progressed, the two coaches for Solomon Islands required some fast pace upfront and introduced some fresh legs which also includes the winning goal scorer, Maeobia.
In an interview with the head coach, Batram Suri was praised for his tactical use of substitution which clearly had a positive impact to the game.
“I’m very pleased with the boys performance today. Every game is a final for us and the boys played exceptionally well” he said.
“I introduced subs based on how we analysed the Fijians in their first game and also in the progression of this match.
“The Fijian defenders looked a little slow so I decided to introduced the fast pace guys on and they delivered.”
Now that the match against Fiji is over, the Solomon Islands youngsters have set their eyes on the crucial game against the Melanesian neighbours, Vanuatu.
Suri again stressed out that every game is a final but his team will definitely work on their homework and try to get another positive result.
“Vanuatu is a very good team, they got a little bit of Fiji and also Solomon style in their play,” he added.
“I’ve seen their strengths and weaknesses and one of the most important part of their game is set pieces. I am looking forward to this game and I as always believed in my boys.” Batram expressed.
The former Solomon Islands legendary striker also encouraged all his players to be focus and also ask that Solomon Islands fans back at home to keep on praying for the team as they prepare for their next battle.
“All glory and honour be to God above. He is the reason for the victory and we’ll always give him praise. Big thank you to fans back at home. This victories are part of your prayers and support. Please keep on supporting us because we’re definitely going to keep on doing our best too. Together we all can make something great for our country.” Batram concluded.
Solomon Islands will play Vanuatu in their final pool match at 12:00pm on Monday, Solomon time.
By: Alex Waimora