For years, Solomon Islands have been known affectionately as the 'Brazil of the South Pacific'. Now they have the opportunity to live up to that impressive tag at November's FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup on Rio de Janeiro's legendary Copacabana beach.
Famed throughout Oceania for their natural skill and flair, this is nevertheless the first time that Bilikiki Boys will be able to showcase their talents on the world stage, and though few will expect them to go the distance, they will travel confident of springing a surprise or two.
Coached by local duo Eddie Omokirio and Vivian Wickham, the team combine a solid defence with a quick, incisive attack that is sure to ensure the Solomons will cause headaches for their opponents in Brazil.
The Solomon Islands retained their OFC title after a thrilling 5-3 come-from-behind victory over Melanesian rivals Vanuatu at Auckland's Narrow Neck beach in New Zealand.
After opening their qualifying account with a 3-2 loss at the hands of Vanuatu, the Solomons bounced back to defeat hosts New Zealand 4-3 in a tight, tense encounter.
A 10-5 defeat of Tahiti in the final group match confirmed their spot in the final and set up a rematch with neighbours Vanuatu. Revenge was duly exacted in some style, sparking scenes of great celebration.
Born in Brazil, Airton Andrioli grew up with football in his blood. Andrioli, who played in Australia's now defunct National Soccer League, is in his second spell as national team coach of Solomon Islands after replacing Allan Gillet in 2006.
Andrioli coaches the senior, U-20, U-17 and Beach Soccer national teams, and he had a technical advisory role with the Solomon Islands' O-League representatives Marist FC in 2006/07.
James Naka hails from the Gwaunaoa village in the Kwaraae region of Malaita Province and is now a member of Kossa FC in the nation's capital, Honiara. Naka is almost universally considered the most exciting player in the Bilikiki squad and will doubtless be out to showcase his full range of exquisite skills on the Copacabana.
Naka was Solomon Islands' top scorer at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Rio de Janeiro 2006, and was instrumental in Bilikiki Boys retaining their title. Pace, movement and an ability to beat players are Naka's biggest assets.
What they said...
"Brazil 2006 was an incredible experience and the Bilikiki Boys will be strong again. But we have total respect for all our opponents and hopefully our experience in South America last year will stand us in good stead this time around," (James Naka, Bilikiki Boys)