One of the most promising young players of Solomon Islands is hoping to achieve bigger in his career and he feels his experiences in 2019 can be instrumental for the development of his game. Charles Mani captained Solomon Islands to qualify for the FIFA U17 World Cup – the first FIFA football tournament to be played by his country – as his team finished 2nd in the last OFC U16 Championship, losing against New Zealand in the grand final after penalty shootout.
The experience to play at world stage was huge for the 17-year old forward: “It was the first time for me and for my country to be in a competition like this. I feel more experienced now – I learned a lot of things in the U17 World Cup – it will help in my footballing career“. The player also added about the atmosphere to be in a nation with so much history in the sport: “The atmosphere in Brazil was great, they are crazy football fans as we are here in Solomon Islands as well“. Solomon Islands took place in a hard group against Italy, Paraguay and the runners-up in the competition Mexico.
The experience can be superb for the Solomon Islanders, but the team still could not get any positive result – losing all three games for a big margin: “We should have done a lot better. We used just one game plan in all three matches, I felt it needed some adjustments, but It depends entirely on our coach to choose what is more suitable for the players“, mentioned Mani. The player also complained about the preparation for the tournament, saying the team had lack of international exposure in order to prepare for the competition.
After impressing in OFC U16 Championship, the forward received a scolarship in New Zealand with the football club Glenfield Rovers. As he is still an U18 player coming from a foreign country, Mani could not play for their first team of Glenfield in New Zealand – as FIFA regulations for international transfers say – so he defended the colours of Long Bay College in the School Football tournaments in the country. Mani was awarded the Most Valuable Player of the Rex Dawkins Tournament, an important award in the youth level of football in the country. “To be in New Zealand, playing in the school team, helped me a lot to prepare for the U17 World Cup“, stated the young player. Charles Mani also mentioned he will be back to New Zealand in 2020 to continue his scolarship program.
In the school break, Mani get back to his home country to defend Kossa FC in the second round of the national top-tier Telekom S-League. Mani helped the team with three goals so far in the season and feels the experienced he had in New Zealand and especialy at U17 World Cup boosted their confidence to play in the national league: “After New Zealand and the U17 World Cup held in Brazil, I learned a lot of good things. It helped a lot to improve my game and now, playing for Kossa, I feel more experienced and confident with my game“, told Mani.
Mani has the talent to become the next superstar of football in his country, but he knows he has a long path to make it real – and give advices to his young generation: “For moving to the next stage I need a lot of commitment and sacrifices, so I will be able to step forward in the game – and these are advices I want to give to all young players in the country as well“.
The still 17-year old player already achieved important milestones in his career, the future will say if Charles Mani and the U17 World Cup generation will put his legacy in the pitch and put the Solomon Islands football in the next level.
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