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Friday, September 29, 2006

SI to start preparation for OFC U20 Soccer Qualifying Tournament

The Solomon Islands preparation for the OFC U20 qualifying tournament in New Zealand will start shortly to ensure the team is ready come January.

National coach Patrick Miniti says training will have to be stepped up in the coming weeks to ensure a better prepared side represents the country in the competition.

Solomon Islands reached the finals in the last OFC U20 qualifying campaign in Honiara before losing to Australia. Miniti would like to go one better this time by achieving the ultimate goal to represent the OFC region in the finals of a major competition.

But while that is his goal, Miniti also understands the limitations he is faced with and is to meet shortly with the SIFF Secretariat and President to discuss how best he would like the team prepared.

The team will need to play international friendly matches with teams from outside the country to measure their strength. So far the Solomon Islands have played friendly matches with the visiting PNG club - PRK Souths United - and the PNG National Under 20 side in Lae recently.

Miniti thinks the team would need similar matches with quality sides to enable the him to select his best for the U20 qualifying competition in Auckland.

With Australia out of the picture, there is a decent chance for the Solomon Islands to have a shot at the FIFA World Cup Finals for this age category.

According to Miniti, he would call up other potential players whom he thinks have the quality to be in the train-on squad and assess them. Miniti says selection will be very tough this time round and players who think they have secured their place in the team will have to think twice.

Meanwhile, Miniti will hold a squad briefing on Monday next week at the SIFF Academy at 3pm.

Source: Oceania Football Confederation

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