The Kurukuru, as the Solomon Islands national futsal team is known, is certainly the most successful national futsal team in Oceania; Solomon Islands will be competing in the FIFA Futsal World Cup for the fourth consecutive year in 2021, having qualified for the world tournament after winning the OFC Futsal Nations Cup in 2019 after defeating New Zealand in the grand final.
Solomon Islands won six of the seven OFC Nations Cup tournaments, showing their dominance of futsal in Oceania. The first step into this golden era began in 2008, when Solomon Islands won their first competition at regional level and qualified for the 2008 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Brazil. The likes such as Micah Lea’alafa, Elliot Ragomo and Jack Wetney shone in the Brazilian country and carried the Solomon Islands flag.
The experience for the Kurukuru was certainly at the highest level: host Brazil, the most successful national team in futsal, was drawn in Solomon Islands group. Russia, Japan and Cuba were the other three opponents of the Oceanians in the group stage of their first appearance at a FIFA Futsal World Cup.
The Solomon Islanders’ first game was against Cuba; surprisingly, a 18-year-old Elliot Ragomo scored in the first minute of the game and put his nation ahead against the Caribbeans. It was the Solomon Islands’ first ever goal at a FIFA Futsal World Cup. Despite all the Oceanians’ efforts, the more experienced Cuban side recovered in the game and ended up winning by 10-2. The same Ragomo, who scored the first historic Solomon Islands goal, added another in the closing stages of the game.
The second match was the most important for the Solomon Islands, against whom they had to play in Brazil, in the Brazilian capital and, above all, against the best futsal player of all time: Falcão. No one really expected the Pacific Islanders to give the Brazilians any kind of fight, Falcão scored six times and gave the newcomers to the tournament no chance. The final score of 21-0 reflected the difference between the two sides, but it was a fantastic show for the Oceanians. Despite the huge difference between the two sides, Solomon Islands created some goalscoring chances, but unfortunately a historic goal was not scored. At the end of the game, Falcão was surrounded by Solomon Islands players to sign autographs and take photos – a memorable moment.
Solomon Islands played their best game in the tournament against Japan, their third opponent in the group. The Asians got off to a better start and scored the first three goals of the match, but an own goal from Yoshifumi Maeda and another quick goal for the Pacific Islanders from Ron Ginio gave Solomon Islands plenty of hope of getting back into the game. Much to the chagrin of the OFC representatives, Japan scored a fourth goal and regained control of the game, ending the match with a 7-2 win in favour of the Japanese.
The final match of the Solomon Islanders in the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Brazil was against Russia, a very strong side that needed a win to confirm their second place in the group. This match was unfortunately for the Pacific Islanders their worst defensive performance – Solomon Islands conceded a total of 31 goals in the match. A 18-year old Jack Wetney and a 17-year old Micah Lea’alafa scored the only two goals of Solomon Islands in the game.
Solomon Islands ended the competition with six goals scored and 69 conceded, with a goal difference of -63 – the worst campaign of all 20 national teams participating in the competition. However, as we already know, this was only the beginning of Solomon Islands’ adventure on the world futsal stage – they took part in two other FIFA Futsal World Cups and have already recorded a win over Guatemala at the 2012 edition in Thailand.
The Kurukuru‘s debut on the world stage has shown that their talented young players have much to look forward to in the coming years – the team has already proved as they have qualified for the next three FIFA Futsal World Cups and Oceania fans of the sport expect them to continue to represent the region as well as they did in the past in the next World Cup to take place in Lithuania in the next year.
This article is part of the series ‘Brazil and Oceania: a Football connection‘.
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