SOLOMON Kurukuru will play the strong and bigger Vanuatu side today in the OFC futsal championship in Fiji without one of their key players.
Jack Whetney, whose combination with Elliot Lilo Ragomo had so far proved devastating, is on a one-match suspension for receiving two yellow cards.
Whetney played with Ragomo in both the Australian and European futsal leagues.
But coach Victor Waiia is optimistic Whetney’s replacement will be as influential as the suspended player.
“We are going to miss Whetney’s service in this crucial game, but I believe in all the boys,” Waiia told Star Sport from Suva yesterday.
He said they were also pleased that their number one keeper Alick Lioka will be back playing today.
Lioka was red carded in their game against New Caledonia on Monday.
He missed the game on Tuesday against hosts Fiji, but replacement Stanley Puairana did well on the job.
Waiia said Ragomo and Moffat Sikwa’ae were facing a bit of injury problem after their game against Fiji on Tuesday.
He said Ragomo’s injury was minor, but they are monitoring Sikwa’ae.
“We really had a tough and a physical battle against the Fijians and our players were just lucky to escape injury,” Waiia said.
Waiia said their game against Vanuatu today is crucial.
“We must win this game if we are to remain clear on top of the tally. Vanuatu are a good and strong side with lots of experienced players. Really, it’s perhaps the most crucial match for us at this stage,” Waiia said.
The Kurukurus have so far convincingly won their first three matches against New Zealand, New Caledonia and Fiji.
After the three matches, Waiia said they’ve identified one of their biggest weaknesses.
“It happens in the first half,” Waiia said.
“The boys usually found it harder to settle down early. This resulted in them conceding more goals. They settled well in the second half and this is when you see them executing our game plan and style and score goals.”
Waiia said the management identified this area and advised the boys to concentrate and settle down as soon as they enter the court.
He said the boys are focusing on today’s crucial game and look forward to do what they loved doing – scoring goals.
Waiia said they also appreciate the support they are receiving from Solomon Islanders studying and living in Fiji.
“Since we started playing, around 500 Solomon Islanders called in at each game to render their support.
“This boosted the morale of the boys and give them a strong fighting spirit,” Waiia said.
Source : Solomon Star News
By : Romulus Huta
Published : 13/6/2008