Solomon Kurukuru played Goias Futsal Club again on Saturday in their final practice game before the Futsal World Cup begins.The score, 3-4 to Goias, was the same result as the teams' first match-up last Tuesday, but Kurukuru were on improved outfit and will be going into their opening World Cup match against Cuba on Tuesday September 30 with confidence.
However, there was some cause for concern late in the second half when Solomon Islands captain, Elliot Ragomo left the court with a knee injury after slipping on a wet patch of the court and landing heavily. The full extent of the injury is undetermined, but the team is confident that Ragomo will regain full fitness later this week.
The first half of the match saw Kurukuru play their best Futsal of the tour as they controlled the court and defended with a sound structure that frustrated Goias' attack. Both sides upped their intensity compared to earlier in the week and the crowd was treated to quality Futsal throughout. No better example of this was Kurukuru's first goal that featured a passing sequence that began with Francis Lafai passing to Lenson Bisili and then making room for himself in front of goal. Bisili provided the perfect pass and Lafai a classy finish.
Soon after, thanks to some strong defensive pressure that saw the ball camped in Goias' half, Jack Whetney intercepted a pass and then managed to evade two defenders before his sweet shot found the back of the net. It was the same position that Kurukuru were in a few days previous, but they were made to work harder and play better to achieve the two-goal lead.
Unfortunately for Solomon Islands, just like the earlier game, Goias were able to snatch a late goal. This time it was with only seconds to spare after Kurukuru goalkeeper Junior Lioka accidently touched the ball with his arm outside of his 'D' in the process of sliding out to defuse a Goias attack. The resulting penalty was well struck and the half-time score was, again, 2 goals to Kurukuru and 1 to Goias.
After working with the team for two weeks, Technical Advisor Scott Gilligan was pleased with the way the team implemented new concepts in this match, 'The first half was exceptional,' he told the players after the game, 'if you can play that first half every half in the World Cup, you'll d some damage'.
The young team was unable to match their first half play and the second stanza followed the script of the first game, with Goias scoring three quick unanswered goals and Kurukuru finishing strongly. James Egeta's late tap-in after he and Whetney cracked open Goias' defence was followed by numerous chances in a flurry of attack. Once again though, the home side held on desperately and the Solomon boys had to be content with a close loss that could have been a close victory.
'I was very happy with the first half,' said Kurukuru coach Vcitor Wai'ia, 'with the second half, the first five minutes and last five minute were OK, but during the middle ten minutes there was lack of concentration and patience. They switched off a little bit, so that's something we'll need to work on. Scott has put in a good defensive structure and the players are adapting to it well, which was the best thing to come out of the game'.
Kurukuru will continue to train at the Goias facility before leaving for Brasilia later in the week for the FIFA Futsal World cup.
Press Release (James Ruhfus, Kurukuru Team, Brazil)