World-renowned Spanish futsal coach José Venancio López has arrived in Honiara this week to assist the Solomon Islands national team in their preparations for the FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012.
López will spend five days working closely with the Solomon Islands Football Federation, newly-appointed OFC Futsal and Beach Soccer Development Officer Paul Toohey and the players themselves to ensure everything is on track for the team’s second appearance at the FIFA event.
The Solomon Islands team, nicknamed the Kurukuru, have dominated futsal in Oceania over recent years, winning four consecutive OFC titles and representing the region at the previous World Cup in 2008.
It was baptism of fire four years ago as Victor Wai’ia’s young side suffered four straight defeats against hosts Brazil, Russia, Japan and Cuba, finishing last of the 20 teams.
In the same tournament, López led Spain all the way to the final where they went down to Brazil in a penalty shoot-out.
With an impressive CV boasting three consecutive European titles, López is one of the most highly-regarded futsal coaches of all time.
The visit comes after OFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Royal Spanish Football Association in May 2011, which included a commitment to work together ahead of the FIFA Futsal World Cup.
OFC Technical Director Patrick Jacquemet travelled to the Spanish FA headquarters in Madrid late last year to meet with President Ángel María Villar and make the necessary arrangements.
Jacquemet says one of López’s key goals this week will be to assess the Solomon Islands team and see how they can make improvements to be more competitive on the world stage.
Following the visit to the Solomon Islands, he will conduct a two-day course in Auckland on March 3 and 4 with coaches from across the Pacific in attendance.