The Solomon Islands have claimed their first-ever win at the FIFA Futsal World Cup with a 4-3 victory over Guatemala that leaves their opponents struggling to make the last 16. Los Chapines must now wait on the outcome of the matches in Group E but, for the Solomons, their disappointment at exiting the tournament will pale in comparison to the joy of this historic win – sealed by an amazing goal by keeper Anthony Talo.
The Kurukuru were impressive from the first whistle, and it was against the run of play that Guatemala took a ninth-minute lead, Estuardo De Leon taking – and eventually converting – a well-worked corner. But within six minutes, the Pacific Islanders were level, James Egeta threading an excellent outside-of-the-foot pass through for George Stevenson to shoot first time beyond William Ramirez.
The equaliser was no more than the Solomons deserved, and six minutes later they moved ahead when captain Elliot Ragomo played in Jeffery Bule to prod the ball through the legs of Ramirez. Ragomo himself had the chance to make it 3-1 shortly before half time when Guatemala’s Jose Gonzalez was sent off for denying Moffat Sikwaae a clear goalscoring opportunity, but his penalty was well saved by Ramirez.
That looked likely to prove a costly miss when Alan Aguilar pulled Guatemala level two minutes into the second half, firing in a low shot from the 10-metre mark that took a couple of slight deflections on its way past Anthony Talo. However, the Solomons were determined not to repeat their second-half collapse against Colombia, and with 11 minutes remaining Micah Leaalafa re-established their advantage, drilling the ball home following another fine through pass from Lames Egeta
Keeper Talo then scored an incredible goal, gathering the ball and wasting no time in punting it forward – directly into the goal of his stranded opposite number, Carlos Merida, who had been pushed forward as a fifth outfielder. With 12 seconds remaining, Walter Enriquez pulled a goal back but it was too little, too late for a Guatemala side who are now relying on results elsewhere, and whose defeat has gifted a last 16 place to hosts Thailand.
“This win was all about our game-plan. We discussed in detail how we were going to play this match and the players carried out my instructions, this time with a lot more concentration than in our previous matches. We are very happy because this is a great victory for our nation, which is one of the smallest islands in the world,” Dickson Kadau, Solomon Islands coach.
“We made a lot of mistakes and they took advantage of every mistake we made. You could see the Solomons didn’t want to go home without at least one win, and good for them. They played well and they got the result they wanted. It’s very disappointing for us,” Jose Gonzalez, Guatemala defender.