The Solomon Islands national team started their run of seven games in ten days with a narrow 1-0 defeat to Dutch Derde Divisie side ADO ‘20 thanks to a goal from Rick Neele after seven minutes.
It was a good test for the national team, who have been training in The Netherlands for the past week leading up to the game. The squad will be tested with more games this week when they face VOAB on Friday evening before heading to Roosendaal on Saturday to play RKSV BSC.
Under the stewardship of former Netherlands defender Wim Rijsbergen, the side lined up for their first ever game on European soil with an experienced side, including captain and current leading goal scorer Benjamin Totori. The coach made three substitutions at half time and a further three changes with 20 minutes to go as he rotated his squad.
Totori had an early shot blocked for the Solomon Islands, but they were soon a goal down when Neele was able to work a bit of space inside the area and poke the ball into the corner past Philip Mango. In the build up, a throw in managed to hit two Solomon defenders before Sead Mazreku flicked the ball in to Neele to score.
With the visitors settling into their stride, they nearly pulled the score level with Joses Nawo chased down the goalkeeper and managed to block his clearance and the ball spun agonisingly wide of the post.
A minute later, Totori broke free and showed a fierce turn of pace to get past the defender before squaring the ball into the box, but the ADO defence were able to clear the danger.
ADO’s Luc Schuffelen was shown a yellow card for a foul on Alwin Hou on the edge of the area and Totori couldn’t quite curl the free kick on target.
Mazreku had a chance for the hosts on 35 minutes when his low drive was well saved by Mango and the goalkeeper was able to react to pounce on the loose ball.
On the stroke of halftime, Solomon Islands were displaying some neat passes around the ADO penalty area and the ball was worked to central defender Allen Peter who hit a ferocious low shot just wide of Mats van der Wijst’s goal.
Rijsbergen made a triple substitution for the start of the second half when striker Andrew Abba, midfielder Dennis Ifunaoa and defender Andrew Rarangia replaced Nawo, Gagame Feni and Peter respectively.
The fresh legs added a spark to the visitors who went close to an equaliser when Totori slammed a shot wide shortly after the restart. Abba showed plenty of energy in attack to close down the defenders and try and force a mistake.
ADO went close to doubling the lead when a cross into the area was fumbled by Mango but the defence was alert to deal with the danger and clear the ball away.
The visitors were getting closer to finding that equaliser and Totori tested ADO substitute ‘keeper Joey Wiese with a low shot after Atkin Kaua and Ifunaoa worked a short corner to the captain.
With just over an hour played, Abba went close to grabbing his first international goal when he connected with Ifunaoa’s cross on the full volley but it flew just wide.
At the other end, Mango was again on hand to keep the score down when he blocked from Schuffelen.
Rijsbergen made three more changes on 72 minutes as Raynick Laete, Patrick Taroga and John Aeta replaced Totori, Jerry Donga and Emmanuel Poila.
It was a physical test for the national team, as Schuffelen and Aengari came to blows in the second half. The pair tangled when trying to get to the ball and despite a quick word from the referee, Schuffelen continued to target the Solomon defender with some late challenges.
The visitors were creating plenty of chances as Ifunaoa fired over late on. In the final moments the Bonitos had more chances and plenty of possession but ADO were staying solid as the final whistle drew near.
With seconds left in the game, Kaua connected with Ifunaoa who fired at goal but Wiese did excellently to block the ball away and protect the slender advantage for the hosts.
For the national team, they will continue their Netherlands training camp with a game against VOAB in the south of the country on Friday.
Line Ups: ADO ‘20: 1. Mats van der Wijst; 5. Ted Amson; 6. Bas Vellema; 7. Rick Neele; 10. Sead Mazreku; 11. Meraj Allahdad; 15. Luc Schuffelen; 16. Raymond de Waard; 18. Marvin Boom; 21. Danny Lute; 23. Donny Rijnink (C). SUBS: 2. Mouad ben Chekh; 4. Dustin Mijnders; 16. Ibrahim Lhar; 17. Sam Nijman; 24. Joey Wiese; 26. Luke de Ruijter; 37. Thijn de Ruijter
Solomon Islands: 1. Philip Mango; 2. Hadis Aengari; 3. Allen Peter (6. Andrew Rarangia, 45); 4. Boni Pride; 7. Atkin Kaua; 9. Benjamin Totori (C) (18. Raynick Laete, 72); 10. Jerry Donga (8. Patrick Taroga, 72); 11. Gagame Feni (17. Dennis Ifunaoa, 45); 14. Joses Nawo (19. Andrew Abba, 45); 15. Alwin Hou; 16. Emmanuel Poila (13. John Aeta, 72).