Solomon Islands have much to live up to if they are to be judged on their previous attempt to qualify for the FIFA World Cup. No one will forget the Solomon Islands' sensational 2006 FIFA World Cup™ qualifying performance in a hurry.
The minnows battled to a 2-2 draw against regional superpowers Australia in the final match of the qualifying tournament to pip New Zealand to a play-off spot against the Aussie team.
The Solomons under coach Alan Gillett thus took full advantage of the opportunity thrown up by New Zealand's shock defeat at the hands of Vanuatu. The English coach was hired specifically for the qualifiers and asked to make a highly motivated, winning team out of an amateur squad.
The Solomons duly claimed comfortable group victories over Tahiti, New Caledonia, Tonga and Cook Islands in the preliminary qualifying tournament on home soil, conceding just a one goal in a 1-1 draw with Tahiti.
The squad then travelled to Adelaide brimming with confidence and sent the island state into raptures with their hitherto undreamed-of success.
The Solomons were among the first recipients of assistance from FIFA's GOAL project, and the dramatic improvement in the nation's footballing fortunes is undoubtedly explained in part by the accelerated pace of development since.
The Lawson Tama stadium in Honiara was upgraded to international class and provides one of the best playing surfaces in the region, contributing to the praiseworthy success both at home and in Adelaide.
Solomon Islands remain one of the big three in Oceania following those memorable performances in Adelaide and the draw for the XIII South Pacific Games has been kind to them with the Melanesians facing rivals Vanuatu and the Polynesian trio of American Samoa, Samoa and Tonga.
Preparations for the South Pacific Games have been patchy with a disappointing 3-1 defeat by a Honiara XI and less than convincing wins over the U-23 national team and Papua New Guinea that drew sharp criticism from local observers.
Despite this, Brazillian-born coach Airton Andriloi possesses a squad brimming with talent including Alick Maemae, Benjamin Totori, George Suri and James Naka. Andrioli's biggest challenge will be to bind that talent together into a cohesive unit capable of fulfilling its undoubted potential.