Solomon Islands are champions again!

Solomon Islands retained their glory in Oceania Futsal and will represent the region once again in the FIFA Futsal World Cup. They won New Zealand in the final match that was by far the most entertaining game of the entire competition. New Zealand fought hard and almost won the match and trophy, but credit to Kurukuru who kept themselves in the match.

Micky Malivuk scored the first goal after an error of goalkeeper Anthony Talo – he was lobbed after clearing the ball directly to the New Zealand captain. Solomon Islands dominated the first half but it ended with the little advantage in favour of New Zealand.

The second half was to be the most exciting half of the entire tournament: in well-combined free-kick James Egeta finished to equalize the match.

A imagem pode conter: 14 pessoas, pessoas sorrindo, quadra de basquetebol
The champions: Solomon Islands – OFC Media

New Zealand would get back to score again through the efforts of Micky Malivuk: the experienced player made a fantastic individual play and finished directly to the nets of Anthony Talo.

Not so later to go down in the scoreline, Alwin Hou could find an excellent shot to equal the match once again. The high speed of the match allowed the Futsal Whites to come strong and score their third goal after a fantastic pass by player/coach Marvin Eakins to Jordi Ditfort, the number 2 finished between the legs of the goalkeeper to give the advtange once again to the New Zealanders.

Solomon Islands, seeing the final whistle close, decided to put up the strategy of the 5th man – playing withouth a goalkeeper between the sticks. The strategy did not go so well since Josh Margetts approached a passing error os the Solomon Islanders to score their fourth goal. Less than two minutes to finish the game the title semeed to be almost decided in favour of the New Zealanders.

The story was different: just after suffering the goal Alwin Hou could score his second goal in the match after a very-well combined play. James Egeta was used as the 5th player for the final minute and, this time, it worked very well: Arnold Maeluma received the ball and scored the equalizer with just 20 seconds remaining in the clock – they could save the match and send it to extra-time.

A imagem pode conter: 1 pessoa, atividades ao ar livre
Alwin Hou scored two goals in the decisive match – OFC Media

Just after the beggining of the extra-time, the experienced Jeffery Bule put Solomon Islands ahead in the score for the first time in the entire match. It was the time for New Zealand to use the 5th strategy and it worked very rapidly for them since they could find the goal they needed with a powerful shot of Stephen Peckham.

The extra-time was not enough to separate the two teams: in a match with so many emotions, the decisive moment was to be in the penalty shootout. Unfortunately for New Zealand, Stephen Peckham did not find the target in his opportunity and Lucas Silva had his penalty saved by Anthony Talo – the decisive penalty that sealed the win for the Kurukuru. Both penalties taken by Solomon Islands – Elliot Ragomo and Jeffery Bule – were succesful.

The Kurukuru made their nation proud again – now they are heading for the FIFA Futsal World Cup to be played in Lithuania next year. This will be the fourth appearence of the nation in the world stage tournament.

The top goalscorers of the tournament were the Tahitian Olivier Hirihiri and the New Zealander Micky Malivuk, both with seven goals scored each. The 3rd/4th playoff match was won by Tahiti also in the penalty shootout to give them the Bronze Medal, while the hosts New Caledonia finished the tournament at the 4th position. In the first match of the day, Fiji won Vanuatu by 6-4.

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