The two clubs representing Solomon Islands in the OFC Champions League 2018 may be yet to kick-off their first match in the competition, but the nation is already having an impact on the tournament.
Group A in Port Vila, Vanuatu got underway on Saturday with two teams featuring Solomon Islanders in their starting line-ups; Lae City Dwellers and Nalkutan FC.
The decision to look to their Melanesian neighbours for recruitments paid off for both sides, especially tournament debutants Nalkutan from Vanuatu’s Tanna island, as James Naka struck from the penalty spot to secure the club’s first-ever OFC Champions League victory.
That match, which ended in a 1-0 win for the host club over Fiji’s Ba FC, also featured solid defender Nelson Sale and Joses Nawo.
For Sale it was a successful evening’s work as he controlled the backline guiding his teammates with his experience and class.
Nawo started the game well with several driving runs at the Ba goal, while also managing to cover the midfield well. However his night ended early when a lapse in judgement that resulted in an off the ball incident saw him receive a direct red card.
In the day’s earlier match another Solomon Islands duo were in action, this time defender Andrew Rarangia and attacker Tutizamo Tanito.
Although he had the impressive goalscoring duo of Raymond Gunemba and Nigel Dabinyaba to compete with for goalscoring opportunities, Tanito held his own and turned one of his many chances into a goal.
The Solomon Islands club champions Solomon Warriors will be the first local club to take part in this year’s OFC Champions League with their campaign kicking off in Tahiti tomorrow (Sunday TAH time) against Vanuatu club Erakor Golden Star at 2pm in the Solomon Islands.
The match can be watched live: click here for live stream