Solomon Islands have named their squad for the New Zealand Oceania World Cup playoff qualifier.
Young striker Charles Baegani has been included as one of two strikers in the squad alongside veteran international Benjamin Totori, reports OceaniaFC. Baegani scored nine goals in six games in the Solomon Cup last month and made his international debut in the 0-0 draw against Vanuatu.
He has been given the nod ahead of veteran striker James Naka, who national coach Felipe Vega-Arango says is short of fitness but could return for the home leg of the tie. Vega-Arango told the Solomon Star: “Naka won’t be travelling to New Zealand because we are going to play against a professional side and their pace is on another level.
“Right now he is kind of slow and his fitness level wasn’t great but if we could do well in New Zealand, we might use him at home.
“He is the only striker in the team who can actually hold the ball up with his back facing the opponent’s backline.”
Other players who did not make the squad include Joachim Waroi who has been left out after failing to return to training recently. Star players include Auckland City’s Micah Lea’alafa and Henry Fa’arado of Marist FC, who will be important players if Solomon Islands want to cause an upset.
Solomon Islands travel to Auckland to face the All Whites on Friday 1 September before a return leg in Honiara. The winner will go on to play the fifth place South American team for a place in the World Cup in Russia next year.
1. Philip Mango, Marist FC
2. Zantas Kabini , Marist FC
3. Desmond Tutu, KOSSA
4. Nelson Sale, Western United
5. Emmanuel Poila, Solomon Warriors
6. Haddis Aengari, Solomon Warriors
7. Richard Hiromana, Marist FC
8. Robert Laua, Marist FC
9. Michael Boso, Marist FC
10. Andrew Rarangia, Henderson Eels
11. Joses Nawo, Henderson Eels
12. Jeffery Bule, Marist FC
13. Atkin Kaua, Marist FC
14. Gagame Feni, Solomon Warriors
15. Timothy Bakale, Marist FC
16. Micah Lea’alafa, Auckland City (NZ)
17. Clifton Aumae, Henderson Eels
18. Jerry Donga, Solomon Warriors
19. Henry Fa’arodo, Marist FC
20. Benjamin Totori, Three Kings United (NZ)
21. Clement Baegeni, Henderson Eels