Menapi's goals take SI soccer team past Tonga to assure a semi-final berth
The veteran striker was in deadly form in front of goal despite the heroics of Tonga goalkeeper Kavakava Manumua who had a strong match. Another fine performer was Henry Fa’arodo, the dreadlocked wide midfielder at the centre of Solomon Islands devastating attacks. Fa’arodo added the third for Solomon Islands on 51 minutes. Another New Zealand-based midfield man Alick Maemae capped off a satisfying afternoon for his team with a neat shot inside the penalty area on 66 minutes.
Solomon Islands were never threatened at the back but were made to work hard as Kamaliele Papani showed some deft touches in an otherwise busy midfield. Papani, though, was no match for a dynamic midfield run by Alick Maemae and George Lui with the pair at the heart of all Solomon Islands creative moves.
Tonga rarely threated Fred Hale's goal with the back four of Samson Takayama, David Taro, George Suri and Marlon Houkarawa proving a more convincing combination than in Solomon Islands preparation matches. Tonga, for their part, showed impressive strength, work-rate and endeavour but rarely any creative moves that possessed a rapier thrust though coach Kilifi Uele was happy enough with the player's collective efforts.
Solomon Islands now sit on top of Pool B with a 100% record and their place in the semi-finals looks all but assured with matches against Vanuatu (Saturday 1st September) and Samoa (Monday 3rd September).