Monday, October 15, 2012

OFC WIBD Solomon Islands

It's time for another edition of my occasionally recurring series, honoring the minnow to watch in the next round of qualifying...even if the qualifying has already started and I'm actually way behind in making these posts.

This time around, we're honoring the Solomon Islands the "Well I'll Be Darned" candidate from Oceania's OFC. That oft overlooked corner of the FIFA globe that consists of New Zealand and....everybody else.

And yet, everybody else has done alright of late. Heck, Tahiti managed to win the regional cup this summer to book their spot at the Confederations Cup next year in Brazil (where they will face Spain, Brazil and a host of other countries poised to beat them up and take their lunch money). So what does it take to come out of a pack of disrespected, underanalyzed nations as the most disrespected and the least analyzed?

File:Sarda sarda.jpg
Fear the Fish
Well consider that in all recent FIFA rankings the Bonitos have ranked fourth out of the four remaining OFC candidates, and that when the final round began they were 174th in the world, behind already eliminated Vanuatu, Samoa and Tonga.

But there's hope afoot for the team named after predatory tuna*! (*Yes there's a predatory tuna, so remember that the next time you open a can of cheap fish-type substance, you may be eating a ravenous beast!) With three points in the bag, and three matches left (starting tomorrow at New Caldonia). The Solomon Islands can still make a come back. First they need to win against New Cali, a team in only its third world cup campaign. Then they take on bottom feeding Tahiti (still basking in the glow of their imminent destruction in Brazil next summer). Wins in both of those matches could set up an all important final fight against the Kiwis IN the Solomons.
The one and only
Henry Fa'arodo

Sure, the local press has relegated the national team to the back pages of the sports section. (The futsal team gets all the coverage...stupid futsal.) But that doesn't mean that the Solomon's don't have a shot, it just means that it will be even more surprising when they triumph!

What's more, with the well-capped and beautifully coiffed Henry Fa'arodo in midfield, the island nation's attack has plenty of promise whenever it heads down the pitch. And while Fa'arodo may be in the twilight of his international career he has certainly paved the way for a new generation to continue the Solomon's slow rise to regional prominence. Fa'arodo may still be the only Solomonder to make it to Australia's A-League, but others like Benjamin Totori and Nelson Kilifa have joined him overseas, or rather, over a sea. And with 20-year-old striker Gagame Feni starting his career in New Zealand, the next level may well be just around the corner for all of the Solomons.

We'll have to wait and see if the next level comes to them even sooner in the World Cup.

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