The dominance of Solomon Islands at continental level in Oceania is clear: the last three editions of the FIFA Futsal World Cup, the representant of OFC were the Kurukuru – winning all qualyfing tournaments in Oceania, taking the slot FIFA guarantees to OFC at the most important Futsal world event. Currently ranked 48th at FIFA Futsal Rankings, the Solomon Islanders have a substantial margin for the second best-ranked Oceanic nation, which is New Zealand standing at 71th place.
The experience of playing already in three FIFA Futsal World Cup allows the Kurukuru to have an important advantage that any of other Pacific teams have: to get exposed at the highest futsal level in the world. Oceania Football Center talked to the Solomon Islands number 4 – experienced from two FIFA Futsal World Cups – George Stevenson. The 27-year old player could already face strong teams at world level as Brazil, Argentina and Colombia.
“These the most important matches I played in life: against Brazil and Argentina”, says Stevenson. The Kurukuru player is talking about the preparation match Solomon Islands played against Brazil at their home soil heading for the 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup held in Colombia – that ended up in a heavy 18-0 loss. Brazil is the most important Futsal nation in the history of sport and playing against a legend as Falcão is really something to be proud of.
The match against Argentina had a better outcome for the Solomon Islanders: a 7-3 loss in the 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup at group stage and in a certain moment of the game the match was tied up in 1-1 draw. It is also important to remember that Argentina won this edition of the World Cup beating Russia in the grand final match – so Solomon Islanders lost 7-3 to the Futsal world champion.
“It was my greatest ever feeling to be in a World Cup. To play against those full professional players and got so many experiences”. Stevenson also adds he sees a big gap between Solomon Islands Futsal and the big nations at world stage: “Of course there is a big difference, but we are still there working to improve”.
The Solomon Islands come to another OFC Futsal Nations Cup this year held in New Caledonia with as big favourites to win the tournament and qualify for the 2020 FIFA Futsal World Cup that this time will be played at Lithuania. Despite the quality of the his team, Stevenson declares they will be challenged: “The most dangerous sides for us are New Zealand and Tahiti. But the preparation is good in comparison with past tournaments and the team is confindent to face this challenge”.
The Solomon Islands could never go through the group stage in a Futsal World Cup. In 2008 in Brazil they could not collect any point in 2012 – in Thailand – Stevenson helped his side with a goal to secure their first ever win in a Futsal World Cup against Guatemala by 4-3.
To secure one more FIFA Futsal World Cup participation, the Kurukuru counts not only with the big experience of many of their players but yes with one coach coming from the most prolific Futsal nation: Vinicius Leite, from Brazil. “New training are being set, game plans and strength conditioning with the coach and his staff. We are confident with our preparation” says George Stevenson.
Stevenson says the strength of the Kurukuru come from their long time together: “We have been together since childhood. Everyone knows each other, since our youth days we are playing together”.
The Solomon Islands will kickoff the OFC Futsal Nations Cup 2019 edition against Tonga at Arene du Sud, Nouméa – 28th October at 1pm NCT. You can watch the match at Oceania Football Confederation channel at MyCujoo.