Twenty players have been given less than two months to prove they are worthy of the a spot in the Solomon Islands national futsal team the Kurukuru as management begin preparing for the upcoming OFC Futsal Championship.
Forty-four players were called in the initial training squad including the entire Kurukuru squad which made history at the 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup after securing the Solomon Islands’, and Oceania’s, first win in the competition.
However, for more than half of those initial players the journey has ended after three weeks of training as coach Dickson Kadau looks to identify a final squad.
Kadau was impressed with the turn out and says that it was not an easy task to let some of the players go.
“There are many quality players that we selectors can choose from and our job gets more and more difficult each year. Some of the younger players are definite national team material and while we have to drop them this round, for sure we will call them up in the future,” Kadau says.
Nevertheless, the current twenty-man squad Kadau has named reflects a strong desire to introduce some new talent to the current crop. However, winning a place in the final twelve will be an immense challenge for the younger stars who have to claw their spot away from seasoned players including several dual FIFA World Cup veterans.
“We are looking at the next FIFA Futsal World Cup so the idea is to start bringing in some younger players who have the potential to play at the top level. It is good for the team in that we have in place future players and also keep the current ones on edge – the older players must know there is no room for complacency,” Kadau explains.
The most notable inclusion in the Kurukuru squad this time is former national football goalkeeper Shadrack Ramoni. Ramoni has massive experience in the 11-a-side discipline having played as a national youth player and for Koloale in the former OFC O-League.
As a futsal player he is considered a novice but selectors are confident that he is one of the top picks and has a good chance of making the final squad.
“Ramoni has good experience in football and he has also impressed us locally with his futsal club. We have had our eye on him for a while now and we think he has the potential to shine in futsal on the international stage,” Kadau says.
The following players have been named in the 22 strong pre-squad which is to be further cut down to 12 players: David Lafai (GK), Anthony Talo (GK), Santus Kabini (GK), Shadrack Ramoni (GK), Phillip Mango (GK), Elliot Ragomo, James Egeta, George Stevenson, Samuel Osifelo, Jack Wetney, Lenson Bisili, Junior Wane, Alwin Hou, Atana Fa’rado Jnr, Micah Lea’alafa, Coleman Makau, Jeffery Bule, Moffat Sikwa’ae, Matthias Saru and Francis Lafai.
The OFC Futsal Championship will take place in Auckland, New Zealand in July. Defending champions Solomon Islands have won the regional title four times since 2008 and will be looking to continue their reign in 2013.
For more on Solomon Islands football go to www.siff.com.sb