A 31-man training squad for the OFC Nations Cup has been revealed by hosts the Solomon Islands and there is no shortage of well-known names amongst the line-up.As the event will be staged in Honiara, there was plenty of local pressure on the selection panel to come up with a strong side and the list does not disappoint with some of the finest players in the Pacific making the cut.
The likes of Alick Maemae, Jack Wetney, Henry Fa'arodo and Benjamin Totori are all household names in the football-mad Solomons while one eye has also been placed on the future with the inclusion of five players - Emmanuel Poila, Freddie Kini, Himson Teleda, Jeffery Bule and Ian Paia - from the Solympics U-23 side that took part in the OFC Men's Olympic Qualifier in Taupo, New Zealand, last month.
The squad announcement followed a set of three trial matches earlier this month that included over 40 players, most of whom are locally-based.
The side will be coached by Jacob Moli - who also led the Bonitos to a runners-up placing at the XIV Pacific Games in New Caledonia last September - and the extended squad is based mainly on the group that competed at the Games. Sixteen members of that line-up are recalled while four have been left out to make way for others.
Jack Wetney - who has already starred for his country on the futsal court - is one of the more noteworthy inclusions, as is prodigiously skilful winger Maemae. The Amicale player did not take part in the Pacific Games but boosted his chances of a recall by winning the Golden Boot in the Vanuatu national league. He is expected to join the squad next week with fellow Vanuatu-based players Nelson Sale, Moffat Deramoa and Joachim Waroi.
Moli is pleased to be able to retain the core of his Pacific Games side and believes this will prove an advantage during the preparations.
"From observing the trials I can say that the current players in the national team have not lost their understanding of the system we used last year and this is a big plus for us," he says. "The challenge will be to get the new players to have the same awareness of our system but I am confident that a solid foundation is already in place."
Moli must reduce his Bonitos squad over the coming weeks as only 23 players can be selected for the Nations Cup, set to be held from June 1 to 10 at Lawson Tama Stadium. The tournament acts as the second stage of Oceania qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup BrazilT and the winner will also go on to represent OFC in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Solomon Islands have been drawn in Group B and will do battle with Fiji, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea while Group A consists of New Caledonia, Samoa, Tahiti and Vanuatu.
The teams will take part in a tournament based on a league system with semi-finals and a final.
The four highest-placed teams from the second stage will then contest stage three of World Cup qualifying - a round-robin, home-and-away play-off series. The matches are foreseen to take place between 7 September 2012 and 26 March 2013 in FIFA windows.
The winner of the third stage will advance to an inter-continental home-and-away play-off against the fourth-placed team from CONCACAF - the confederation of North America, Central American and the Caribbean - for a place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup BrazilT.
Solomon Islands training squad for OFC Nations Cup
Shadrack Ramoni (Koloale)
Leon Fox (Malaita Kingz)
Felix Ray (Western United)
Tome Faisi (Solomon Warriors)
Seni Ngava (Kossa)
Nelson Sale (Amicale)
Hadisi Aengari (Solomon Warriors)
Emmanuel Poila (Solomon Warriors)
Loni Qaraba (Western United)
Freddie Kini (Koloale)
Joshua Tuasulia (Marist Fire)
Aleck Wickham (Western United)
Timothy Joe (Eastern Stars, Papua New Guinea)
Leslie Nate (Kossa)
Moffat Deramoa (Amicale)
Alick Maemae (Amicale)
Jack Wetney (Western United)
Himson Teleda (Western United)
Henry Fa'arodo (Team Wellington, New Zealand)
Joe Manu (Hana)
Mostyn Beui (Koloale)
Joses Nawo (Koloale)
James Naka (Koloale)
Jeffery Bule (Solomon Warriors)
Benjamin Totori (Koloale)
Ian Paia (Koloale)
Abraham Iniga (Marist Fire)
Joe Luwi (Western United)
Nicholas Muri (Real Kakamora)
Nathan Kera (Western United)
Joachim Waroi (Amicale)
For more on Solomon Islands football go to www.siff.com.sb