The Solomon Islands’ 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup preparations will kick into high gear on October 10 when they play a polished Australian side in a one-off international friendly in Brisbane.
The match will be the Kurukuru’s first international since qualifying for Thailand 2012 by taking home the title at the 2011 OFC Futsal Championship, where they won all five of their fixtures with an average of nearly 10 goals per game.
Their opposition will be coming into the match on the back of a whitewash of New Zealand’s Futsal Whites in the ASB Trans Tasman Cup, which took place in Auckland last week.
The three-match series was seen as another step in the Futsalroos’ World Cup preparations, with coach Steven Knight harnessing the opportunity to test a number of younger players to see if they are up to international level.
“These matches signal the start of the final selection process and it is now up to the players to prove they deserve to be in the final squad for the FIFA Futsal World Cup,” Knight said.
“Since qualifying the players have personally taken their preparations to another level with extra fitness training and court sessions, which is fantastic considering their amateur status and balancing work and family commitments. We have been training hard but you can only do so much in training compared to a match.”
The Kurukuru meanwhile are no doubt anxious to make amends for their first appearance in the competition, at Brazil in 2008, when they lost all four games and conceded no fewer than 69 goals.
Their chances of becoming more competitive were boosted in March when they took part in a four-day clinic under the guidance of Spanish national team coach Venancio Lopez.
Lopez, brought in thanks to an agreement between the Royal Spanish Football Federation and OFC, was pleasantly surprised by the experience, saying the players potentially have what it takes to put in a strong World Cup showing.
“They will be much more mature when they go to Thailand. With an average age of around 20, their future potential is unlimited,” he said.
“Obviously, they are not going to win the title but they can certainly cause a surprise. They’ll go into the competition at a similar level to other qualifiers.”