BY JOHN HOUANIHAU
THE head coach of the Solomon Islands men’s football team, Felipe Vega-Arango, expects his team to improve in their upcoming game against American Samoa after the team’s narrow victory over Samoa.
Solomon Islands secured a 1-0 triumph at Lawson Tama Stadium. This victory propelled them three points ahead of their Oceania opponents, Samoa and American Samoa, and positioned them as Group D toppers in the XVII Pacific Games 2023 football competition.
The match emphasized the national team’s clear vision to maintain victory at this year’s Pacific Games 2023 football competition.
Felipe, while apologizing to the home fans for their narrow victory at Lawson Tama yesterday, urged them to understand that the victory had not come easily for the national football team.
“There are a few areas the boys need to improve on, which, for me as coach, I know too well.
“I think the crowd was expecting that this was going to be an easy match. Samoa played okay; they were well organized, making a couple of changes in the first half because we made a few errors in the marking, but in the second half they didn’t make any chances.
“I am sorry for the crowd. I know they were expecting us to beat them 4 to 5 nil, but international football is not easy, and they need to understand that, and, like I said, since we now registered three points, we have to focus on the next match,’’ he told local journalists in the post-match interview.
He added, “We have not played home matches in five years. The boys are very nervous, I can tell. We didn’t have the speed or intensity. In the half time, I told them, we need some energy, so I have to make a couple of changes. Bobby Lesly is going to give us some energy, and John Orobolu is going to give us energy too. They are energetic.”
Head Vega-Arango reemphasized that the team played better in the second, having few chances to score a couple of goals.
“But this is a tournament. We have three, and we have to move on. It’s good that they are critical, but I told them not to worry; it is what it is. It is not easy to play in front of the home crowd for the first time in five years,’’ he said.
American Samoa and the Solomon Islands will play their final group match on Thursday, November 23 at Lawson Tama Stadium at 3 p.m.