The Kurukuru’s characteristic ‘never say die’ attitude once again came to the fore as they twice came from behind to claim their first win outside Oceania in a historic 4-3 defeat of 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup hosts Thailand.
From start to finish the Kurukuru refused to be broken and were rewarded for their persistence against the 11th-ranked side in a match played as part of the All Star Futsal Festival, which also features Australia, Panama and Egypt.
Currently sitting at 46 in the world rankings, the Kurukuru had only a handful of friendlies before arriving in Thailand making the win all the more gratifying for the players and team management.
“This is a very important victory for the Kurukuru and for Solomon Islands. Finally we have managed to win outside our region and in the lead up to World Cup it is great for the boys to be reminded what it feels like to win,” head coach Dickson Kadau says.
“The hard work exerted in the last year and in the training camp in Spain is paying off and we are very happy to be on the right side of the scoreline. Thailand are a very strong side and today they played well but we believed that we could win and we worked hard to get it.”
Winning goal scorer Samuel Osifelo displayed some brilliant individual skills to collect a double in the game but credits the entire team’s efforts for the win.
“I feel happy to have done my part in scoring today but overall it is the work of all the players in the team. We communicated well and had confidence in each other and we have our tour in Spain to thank for this,” Osifelo says.
Coached by Victor Hermans and backed by a fully-packed stadium, Thailand looked sharp and broke the deadlock after four minutes with a strike from Jeerawat Sornwichian. That lead was extended in the 10th minute when Kritsada Wongkaev beat the Kurukuru defence to give the home side a 2-0 lead.
However, the Kurukuru were back in the contest a minute later when Osifelo scored his first of the game and his second of the pre-World Cup tour.
Captain Elliot Ragomo levelled proceedings with his first goal of the tour in the 13th minute leaving the game tied at 2-2 for the half-time break.
The second half saw both teams open strongly but Thailand had the slight upper hand with some very good attempts finding only the woodwork. However, their hard work paid off in the 33rd minute when Sornwichian scored from distance to make it 3-2 to Thailand.
The Kurukuru’s foul count increased under sustained pressure from Thailand but, fortunately for the tourists, none of the penalties were converted.
In the dying moments of the match the Solomon Islanders were rewarded handsomely when Micah Lea’alafa got in on the goal scoring action through a powerfully taken free kick in the 39th minute.
Once again, the teams were level but neither side was willing to finish with a draw.
Thailand repeatedly pushed hard into Kurukuru territory in an attempt to get in front but this attacking style eventually cost them the game.
With only seconds left to play Thailand found themselves exposed when an attack was cut short by Osifelo who stole the ball halfway down the court before dancing past two Thai defenders and slotting the ball home for the winner.
The Kurukuru have less than a day’s rest before they play their second friendly match in Thailand. They will take on Australia as the All Star Futsal Festival continues.
For more on Solomon Islands football go to www.siff.com.sb