O League fever sweeps through Honiara as Ba FC of Fiji flies into SI today for game with Marist FC
Local promotions have also been stepped up in all media including newspapers, radio and the only local TV- One News. It's a big occasion as far as football lovers in the Solomons are concerned. The last international match was played in Honiara when Solomon Islands played host to the Australian Socceroos for a World Cup berth.
Now Solomon Islands will host the glamourous Fiji champion Ba FC in what is billed to be showdown between the two Melanesian soccer powerhouses. Planning and preparation for Marist FC's home match began shortly after the OFC announced new match schedules for Group B.
Banners promoting the O' League match are placed above the bridge leading into the city centre and the other at the Lawson Tama ground. From Friday, sale of merchandise goods for both Marist and Ba FC's have started in a make-shift stall in the car park in front of the Lawson Tama ground. All these activities plus the arrival of the OFC's soccer boss - President Reynald Temarii adds prominence to the highly charged soccer atmosphere already felt in the city.
Honiara city with a population of more than 50,000 residents is currently experiencing an influx of people from the provinces. Flights into Honiara have also been booked out with people flocking into Honiara for this one off international match.
SIFF president Martin Alufurai says it is the OFC president, Temarii who initiates the idea to replace the old competition format where all participating countries congregate in one country to the home and away system. This, he says allows soccer fans of the participating countries the opportunity to see their big name players and those of the visiting club clash before their very own eyes. The SIFF president also adds that Temarii's presence alone adds extra boost to the excitement in Honiara and urges fans and supporters to come out in numbers for tomorrow's clash.
Tomorrow's match is an important one for Marist FC and a win will greatly boost their chance of qualifying if they win all their scheduled matches in the Group B O' League competition.
Meanwhile, it is understood the Ba FC have already left Nadi around 10am (Fiji time) today in a Solomon Airlines flight transiting through Santo in Vanuatu before flying off to Honiara. The flight is expected to arrive in Honiara after 1pm (Solomon time).