Sport: Tahiti and Solomon Islands square off in FIFA World Cup qualifying

11:07 am on 8 November 2016

Tahiti and Solomon Islands square off tonight in the third round of FIFA World Cup qualifying in Papeete.

The Group B pair are the first of Oceania's six remaining teams to get underway, with New Zealand hosting New Caledonia this weekend in Group A, while Fiji and Papua New Guinea have the bye.

Solomon Islands are missing half a dozen front-line players, including attacking threats Benjamin Totori and Micah Lea'alafa, but caretaker coach Moses Toata remained optimistic.

"We're away from home so a draw may be a good result for us but we are trying to take all three points and if we do that will be a big bonus," Toata told OFC.

"We will also play without the pressure and expectation that comes from playing in front of a home crowd and if we play to our strengths then that will give us the best possible chance to get a result.

Dejected Solomon players after their loss to PNG in the OFC Nations Cup semi-final 2016

Benjamin Totori (L) is missing from the Solomon Islands squad for personal reasons. Photo: OFC via Phototek

Tahiti are also missing some key players: Tamatoa Teauira (French Cup), Henri Caroine and Rainui Aroita (both injured).

Tahiti coach Ludovic Graugnard.

Tahiti coach Ludovic Graugnard. Photo: OFC via Phototek

The Toa Aito missed out on a place in the Oceania Nations Cup semi-finals in June - and the chance to defend their Oceania crown - but head coach Ludovic Graugnard said they begin with a clean slate for the next phase of World Cup qualification.

"It's our nature, and also mine, to be a competitor, so as soon as they see the Solomon players at Pater Stadium they are going to be boosted to try to take the win," said Graugnard.

"Playing this kind of game in Tahiti is not an opportunity they have every week end. The motivation? They have it already, I don't have anything special to do about it.

"These are the first two games of the group, if we want to still have a chance in March for the next games, we have to take some points out of these first two games."

Following tonight's match, the return fixture is in Honiara on November 13.

Striker Teaonui Tehau is a key attacking threat for the Toa Aito.

Striker Teaonui Tehau is a key attacking threat for the Toa Aito. Photo: OFC via Phototek