Solomon Islands have put their most recent loss to New Caledonia behind them, coming from behind to claim a 3-2 victory at Stade Fautaua on the opening day of Group B action at the OFC U-19 Championship.
It’s the exact score line which Solomon Islands were downed by in 2017 during the OFC U-17 Championship, also in Tahiti, with the win seeing New Caledonia through to the final and on to India at the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
While the match didn’t have quite so much riding on it, the victory for Batram Suri’s side could prove crucial when it comes to tallying up points and goal difference further down the track.
For now, the former Solomon Island international is pleased to have witnessed his side come together and make a strong start to the competition against a side he rates highly.
“To play against New Caledonia, for the Solomon Islands, is not easy,” Suri said.
“It’s always one wins, then the other wins and always by a close margin. So we expected that it would be tough.
“We came from behind, we were doing well and the boys really tried their guts out. The concentration of defending to attack is what the boys did well and they really worked for each other on the field.”
New Caledonia coach Felix Tagawa said his side was well prepared for the encounter but were found lacking in certain areas which proved crucial to the final result.
“On the face of it we were prepared, in the first half our game plan was in place and we had the width, but we didn’t score the chances we need to,” Tagawa rued.
“They had two or three chances before the break and they put one of them away and that injected some intensity back into the match.
“We thought we had everything in place but they started to get us in the middle and we weren’t able to coordinate ourselves.”