20 Mar 2020

Sport: Solomon Islands futsal team resume training amidst Covid-19

4:54 pm on 20 March 2020

The Solomon Islands men's futsal team have resumed training in Honiara despite the increasing uncertainty facing the sporting world around Covid-19.

The Kurukuru defended the OFC Futsal Nations Cup title in November to secure their spot at the World Cup in Lithuania, which is scheduled to kick-off in September.

Solomon Islands celebrate winning the 2019 OFC Futsal Nations Cup.

Solomon Islands celebrate winning the 2019 OFC Futsal Nations Cup. Photo: OFC via Phototek

Assistant coach Francis Lafai said the team is planning to train three times a week until but admits the situation could change.

"There are big issues in the world through the year and everyone is thinking whether this World Cup is going to happen," he said.

"It all depends on what decision FIFA will come up with but our team, the Kurukuru, we are continuing doing our preparation. What comes our way is up to FIFA."

An extended 19-man Kurukuru squad was selected following the conclusion of the local futsal league last weekend, including the return of senior Solomon Islands international Micah Lea'alafa, who was released by South African Premier Soccer League side Maritzburg United last month.

Micah Lea'alafa playing for the Kurukuru in 2016.

Micah Lea'alafa playing for the Kurukuru in 2016. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The team, excluding the Australian-based James Egeta, were put through their paces yesterday afternoon in the multi-purpose Hall in Honiara.

Francis Lafai, who played for the Kurukuru between 2008 and 2016, is overseeing the national team in the absence of head coach Vinicius Leite, who is based in Australia and unable to travel to Solomon Islands under the current travel restrictions.

"We always chat together," he said. "I'm always sending feedback to him through [Facebook] Messenger. Everyday we communicate about the trainings, everything," he said.

Solomon Islands players throw coach Vinicius Leite into the air in celebration.

Solomon Islands players throw coach Vinicius Leite into the air in celebration. Photo: OFC via Phototek

The Solomon Islands Football Federation announced earlier this week that the Under 16 Youth Solomon Cup scheduled for next month had been deferred until further notice because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The SIFF Executive Committee said it made the decision to defer the tournament on advice from the Ministry of Health, following a request from the Solomon Islands government to reduce mass gatherings.

But Francis Lafai said the Kurukuru squad are happy to resume training and will be keeping themselves isolated from the public.

"We train behind locked doors so it's ok. The squad are really comfortable to [continue with] the training," he said.

"We tried to pull the boys together because we selected some new boys in the squad...and the main focus for the first couple of weeks is we try to work with their fitness levels," he said.

Kooline's Benjamin Mana won the golden boot award after netting eight goals.

Benjamin Mana is one of six players from the Kooline club named in the extended Kurukuru national squad. Photo: OFC via Phototek

Francis Lafai said the Solomon Islands Football Federation has been in the process of organising friendly matches overseas for the Kurukuru but it all depends on the situation they face with the Coronavirus.

Kurukuru squad:

Alvin Hou (Kooline), Alvin Ray (Marist FC), Anthony Talo (Kooline), Arnold Maeluma (Kooline), Benjamin Mana (Kooline), Charles Otainao (Marist FC), Charlie Ata (KF Gold), Coleman Makau (Kooline), Elis Mana (Kooline), Elliot Ragomo (Marist FC), Franster Rukumana (KF Gold), George Stevenson (KF Gold), James Egeta (Gold Coast Force),

Jeffery Bule (Marist FC), Junior Kasute'e (Marist FC), Marlon Sia (Mataks), Micah Lea'alafa, Pual Laki (Marist FC), Samuel Osifelo (Marist FC).