Words by Dominic Unwin

Photo: Tom Falco

We’ve all seen it before, a team dominating the first half but failing to beat the keeper, conceding then looking down the barrel of an underserved loss.

That was the scenario facing the Under 19’s Solomon Islands team in their match against Capital Football at the AIS.

Down three-nil despite having close to twenty attempts on goal, the Islanders rallied late on and scored three quick fire goals of their own to earn a share of the spoils.

Not that coach Stanley Puairana ever doubted his boys.

“No of course!” he said.

“The first half we had lots of chances but I don’t know what happened. It was maybe their mind or something like that! But second half was good we told them to switch on and it was really good in the end.”

It was the second draw of the tournament for the group after they lost their first game to New South Wales in a 6-4 thriller.

Results are not the be all and end all for this team however, their sights are set on later this year.

Come October this side will have the honour of representing their homeland at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.

As a consequence, the majority of this squad are two years younger than their opponents but Puairana is hopeful the lessons learned will prove crucial in the long run.

“We’ve really come here for our preparation for the Youth Olympics,” he said.

“We’ve come to learn, to gain experience. We’ve already qualified [for the Olympics] so most of the guys here at 15-17 years old and we took them out of the Under 16s league back home. It’s good for them to play in a hard group like the under 19s.”

With any luck it may prove the difference on the world stage.