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Monday, March 12, 2007

Solomon Islanders shine in final round of New Zealand Football Championships

Nearly all the Solomon Islands soccer players who are playing a professional career in New Zealand have performed exceptionally well on Saturday for their respective clubs in the final round of the prestigous NZ Football Championships (NZFC).

In the game to determine whether table leaders, Waitakere can wrap up the minor premiership title on the final day of the regular season, Waitakere maintained composure with the contribution of their highest goal scorer and Solomon Islander, Commins Menapi with another Solomon colleague George Suri to knock eight unanswered goals past a hapless Otago side. The 8-0 demolition of Otago by minor title winner Waitakere is understood to be the biggest winning margin in the history of the NZFC. This now implies that Waitakere will host the Grand Final where they will meet the winners of YoungHeart Manawatu and Auckland who will play off in the preliminary final.

During the game, Solomon Islander George Suri settled Waitakere's nerves, toe-poking home from close range after Otago goalkeeper Peter Evans had done well to keep out a Commins Menapi effort to put Waitakere 1-0 infront of Otago in the 26th minute of play. Waitakere's leading goalscorer and fellow Solomon striker Commins Menapi, finally got on the scoresheet, chipping the keeper after a good through ball in the 77th minute to make it 7-0 in favour of Waitakere.

The second game between YoungHeart Manawatu and Canterbury also saw Solomon Islanders Alick Maemae, Benjamin Totori and Batram Suri playing key roles for their teams which ended in a close 3-2 win in favour of Manawatu. Alick Maemae got the opening goal for Manawatu just after 2 minutes of play through a well struck free kick from the edge of the area. After 33 minutes, another free kick led to a second goal for Manawatu with Benjamin Totori capitalising after Canterbury failed to clear from the box. Totori scored his 24th goal of the season from the penalty spot after he was brought down by Glen Collins in the 51st minute to make it 3-0 in favour of Manawatu. This also confirmed Totori's chances of winning the golden boot with a runaway 24 goals from his boots with Commins Menapi coming second on 12 goals.

In the dying stages of the match well known Solomons Batram Suri turned providers for Canterbury's two late goals which ended the match with a 2-3 loss to Manawatu. Batram Suri's cross in the 78th minute was converted for Canterbury's first goal whilst another foul on Suri in the penalty area resulted in a converted penalty spot kick in the 82nd minute.

In the other game which featured another Solomon player, Stanley Waita also managed to find the net after a long while in the 34th minute from a fine strike from 25 yards out to help his Waikato side beat Hawkes Bay United by 4-2.

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