BY JOHN HOUANIHAU
DESPITE a 1-0 defeat to the Solomon Islands in their opening match at the XVII Pacific Games 2023 football competition at Lawson Tama Stadium on Friday, Samoa’s head coach, Ryan Stewart, said his boys did well and have the potential to improve in their next match.
Samoa went down to host the Solomon Islands by a goal to nil in the group D opener of the XVII Pacific Games 2023 football competition in Honiara.
Stewart said he saw a lot of positives despite the defeat in the match against the best side in the Oceania region and praised his players for putting up a good fight.
He said the Solomon Islands national football team, apart from New Zealand, is probably the best team in Oceania’s Pacific region.
“The Samoa Football Federation is working hard to improve things, and I think you can see today we are. We will keep going, and hopefully we can equal teams like Fiji and Solomon Islands in the near future,’’ he told local journalists in the post-match interview.
Stewart stated that his first coaching duty with Samoa was on August 23 with the Samoan under 23 team.
“We have a lot of potential. I think we are on the journey where we will try to compete, bring in players, and do things. Solomon Islands, apart from New Zealand, is probably the best team in the Pacific. So we knew it was going to be a hard game, but I asked the boys to give everything, and everyone watching at home probably saw that they did.
“My boys try to steer the Solomon Islands, make them frustrated, and try to make the crowd a little bit off-edge, but I think we did well. We move on to American Samoa on Monday.
“I think our full backs (defenders) were fantastic; the numbers 2 and 3 were very good. They worked. I think everyone puts in effort. With Solomon Island, they got players everywhere,’’ he told reporters on Friday. “We are looking forward to our game on Monday, November 20, against American Samoa,’’ he said.
He also mentioned how professionally the competition is organized and thanked the organizers for that.
The final group game between American Samoa and Samoa is scheduled for Monday, November 20, at 3 p.m. at Lawson Tama Stadium.