Melanesian rivals Solomon Islands and Vanuatu ended their friendly today in a tough nil all draw at the Lawson Tama stadium in Honiara.
Vanuatu started the match as the better side dominating the game inside the first 2o minutes with star player Bong Kalo having multiple shots on goal but barely troubling the impressive Bonito keeper, Philip Mango.
The hosts opted to a more defensive style of play, but found more rhythm heading into the middle of the first half with the ever impressive Micah Lea’alafa continuously causing havoc for the Vanuatu defense.
Lea’alafa teaming up with Jerry Donga, and Gagame Feni was the nemesis for the Ni Vans.
Lea’alafa almost found the back of the net after he beat two defenders but was impressively saved by the experienced Chikau Mansale.
The second half was a different story as Bonitos coach Vega Arango briging in fresh legs with the likes of Solomon cup stars Clement Baegeni, Clifton Aumae, Alfred raragia, and Eugene Tekobi.
Solomon islands continued to look more confident heading into the second half with midfielder Atkin Kaua almost scoring the winner in the 70th minute after he went for a volley from a loose ball, but was again denied by Mansale.
Gagame Feni also had chance to close the game in the 80th minute after he dribbled past two defenders, only to push the ball wide.
Despite the draw, Solomon Islands coach Vega Arango said he expected the scoreline and was satisfied with his players’ performance.
“This match was a good test for our boys, especially the new players that were fielded today,” he said.
“I told the boys not to allow any goals and i’m happy that they played by our game plan.”
Arango said in preparation for the World Cup qualifier the team needed to have a string defense and that will be their main focus.
He said this friendly would help select a strong side to face the New Zealand All Whites in next month’s world cup qualifier.
The two legged final will be contested over August 28 and September 5 .
By: Lowen Sei