But they will be in no doubt about that fact now after the Kurukuru swept aside New Caledonia 13-5 in the third match of the tournament with a clinical display of skill and speed.
In the build-up to these World Cup qualifiers, Solomon Islands coach Dickson Kadau stated that his men were in the most determined frame of mind he had ever seen them and their desire to win was there for all to see this evening at Vodafone Arena.
Elliot Ragomo was the man most of the Kurukuru’s supporters had come to see and he did not disappoint the faithful, leading the way with five goals as seven different Solomon Islands players got their names on the scoresheet.
But New Caledonia made sure the defending champions did not have things all their own way and were still well in the game at the halfway point. A first-half hat-trick from stand-out Cedrick Humuni meant they went in for their halftime teamtalk only 6-3 down, Ragomo’s two goals being supplemented by strikes from James Egeta, Moffat Sikwa’ae, Jeffery Bule and Lenson Bisili for the Solomon Islands.
They were joined in the goalscoring stakes by Micah Lea’alafea and Jack Wetney, who both struck twice, as the Kurukuru ran riot in the second half. Ragomo also scored three more times to complete his five-goal haul.
The New Caledonians did manage to respond through Romain Guitton and a Bisili own goal but those efforts weren’t enough to unduly worry Kadau, who watched his side close out the match with relative ease.
Solomon Islands coach Dickson Kadau:
We played well but we will face harder games at this tournament. We are favourites to win the title so the players feel under pressure to do well but they are good at handling that. I think New Zealand will be the team to beat. They are a well-organised side and understand how to play to their system.
New Caledonia coach Eric Michalak:
It was a very hard game to start the competition with and it was always going to be difficult but I felt we made too many individuals errors. If you make a lot of mistakes against a side like the Solomon Islands then you are likely to be punished and that’s what happened. I saw many good things from my team but just as many bad things.
Solomon Islands – New Caledonia Match Summary click here (PDF)