13 Sep 2021

Solomon Islands chasing history at Futsal World Cup

1:56 pm on 13 September 2021

The Solomon Islands men's futsal team is hoping to break new ground at this month's World Cup in Lithuania.

Solomon Islands in action against Malta.

Solomon Islands in action against Malta. Photo: Solomon Kurukuru Futsal

The Kurukuru are competing in their fourth consecutive global championship, after defending their Oceania title two years ago.

The regional champions kick off their World Cup campaign against Morocco tomorrow morning, and captain Elliot Ragomo said they are hoping to advance beyond the group stage for the first time.

"This time I think the way the boys is changing is the mentality and I think everyone will go out there and everyone has got to really fight and try to improve," he said.

Ragomo was a key figure in Solomon Islands three previous World Cup appearances, in which they've managed just one win from 10 games.

He said the team was ready to give it their all in Lithuania.

"I think the confidence level the boys have got has gone to a level where we are ready to compete," he said.

"There is no excuse for me, for me personally there is no excuse. I am here to do my job and that is to compete and to play as hard as I can and we must give 150 percent on the court."

Solomon Islands futsal captain Elliot Ragomo.

Solomon Islands futsal captain Elliot Ragomo. Photo: Solomon Kurukuru Futsal

The Kurukuru qualified for their fourth consecutive World Cup two years ago but went 18 months without playing a competitive match because of Covid-19.

A planned training camp in Australia was cancelled because of the pandemic but the team did manage to play 10 games since arriving in Europe at the end of July.

Solomon Islands Football Federation President William Lai said they were able to arrange the three week training camp in Poland at short notice, which was paid for out of the team's preparation grant from Oceania Football and meant the players didn't have to waste two weeks in quarantine.

"In a way it's a blessing because the team's training camp in Poland was so perfect, then we had a tournament in Croatia and...back in Poland to have two friendlies before the World Cup starts."

Kurukuru coach Vini Leite.

Kurukuru coach Vini Leite. Photo: Solomon Kurukuru Futsal

The Kurukuru had big plans before the pandemic intervened, Lai said.

"We were prepared to go to Asia then Europe before the Futsal World Cup but, having said that, while (in) the 18 months we didn't do much because in Solomons facilities is non-existent.

"But with the training camp in Poland and our few months training in Honiara I believe the team is very positive going to the World Cup."

The Kurukuru departed Honiara on 30 July, with Australian based head coach Vinicius Leite joining them in Poland a couple of weeks later.

William Lai said all players and management staff had to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to be a part of the World Cup campaign.

"We did a policy that we do need vaccinations before they allowed to go abroad because for risk reasons but we do have the freedom of their individual choice. It's up to each whether they want to go with vaccination or not go."

Solomon Islands will also face Portugal and Thailand in Group C.

24 teams are are split into six groups of four in Lithuania, with the top two from each group advancing to the round of 16 alongside the four best third placed teams.

The Kurukuru played 10 games in Europe to prepare for the World Cup.

The Kurukuru played 10 games in Europe to prepare for the World Cup. Photo: Solomon Kurukuru Futsal