Kurukuru holds CONCACAF Champ

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Solomon Star

Logo - Solomon StarSolomon Islands 6 – Guatemala 6

IT was a feeling equal to victory when the young Kurukuru side held the champions of CONCACAF (Confederation of the North, Central American and Caribbean Football Association) to a 6-all draw in the Alfateh Intercontinental Futsal Championship in Libya.

Kurukuru had one day of rest in their favour as they prepared in the changing rooms feeling refreshed and ready for action. Before the match a section of the poem written for them before they left home was read and the players gathered renewed motivation. Messages from supporters in Solomon Islands reassured that their homeland is 100 per cent behind them.

Guatemala was never going to be an easy one for Kurukuru. Besides being ranked much higher than Solomon Islands they have Cuba’s scalp in their hands after beating them 5–3 in the finals of the CONCACAF Futsal Championship last year. Cuba had beaten Solomon Islands 10 – 2 in their World Cup encounter in 2008.

Guatemala itself may have been hoping for an easy win but that was not to be. It took Solomon Islands only 20 seconds to make their mark when a thunderous shot from Micah Lea’alafa was deflected out. Kurukuru then upped the pressure on the Guatemalans resulting in their opponents backing up to form a defence from the relentless attack. The pressure paid off in the 44th second when Elliot Ragomo walloped in their first goal.

A Sikwae and Kapu combination made it 2 – 0 for Kurukuru in just the second minute. Lea’alafa had the chance to extend the lead but missed by fraction with his shot. This was followed by another closely missed chance from a Jack Wetney free-kick.

By now Kurukuru had engaged a rolling substitution which saw subs going in more frequently. This boosted their attack as they were more refreshed each time they went back in.

Guatemala came back in on the 15th minute when a shot deflected of Sikwae’s chest went in the Kurukuru goal. Two minutes before half-time Guatemala equalised with a penalty after Alick Lioka brought down a player in the penalty area.

The Guatemalans came back strongly in the second half and applied much pressure on Kurukuru. Kurukuru had an early chance to regain the lead but the shot was put wide. Guatemala made Kurukuru pay when the grabbed the lead for the first time in the game to go 3 – 2 up.

Within a minute Captain, Elliot Ragomo, fired home to draw the teams level at 3-all. He then set up Francis Lafai for an easy tap in to make it 4 – 3 in Kurukuru’s favour. Elliot further extended the lead with another goal to give his side a 2 goal buffer at 5 – 3. Elliot then made it 6 – 3 after a fine display of skills by Lea’alafa gave him space to shoot.

Guatemala scored 2 goals in quick succession to move within a goal of Kurukuru.

Kurukuru were awarded 2 penalties after the Guatemalan come back but they failed to utilise them.

With only a minute and half to play Guatemala, scored the equaliser putting them at 6 – 6 with Kurukuru.

The boys knew that they deserved a win and pressed hard for the goal to make a difference but in the end the buzzer saved the CONCACAF champions from what would have been an embarrassing defeat.

It was an amazing game and an amazing performance by the Solomon Islands team, which displayed just how far it came after its first appearance in the FIFA Futsal World Cup in 2008.

This was a historic draw that will be remembered for a long time in the annals of Futsal history. From today the world will never see Solomon Islands in the same way.

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