In every corner of the footballing world, the influence of five-time world champions Brazil is to be found and at the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers in Samoa it is no different.
Airton Andrioli, who has long-standing links to the Oceania region, is in charge of the Solomon Islands, one of the favourites for the gold medal at the South Pacific Games football tournament.
The competition in Samoa is being used as the first stage in Oceania's qualifiers for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The top three finishers will progress to the next phase and Andrioli has high ambitions of getting his island side back up into the spotlight they briefly enjoyed in the last qualifying campaign.
It is his second stint as coach of the Solomon Islands and as a former player in the now-defunct National Soccer League in Australia, he is well versed with what he needs to do to achieve success in the region.
The Solomon Islands got their campaign off to a convincing start with a 12-1 rout of American Samoa in their opening group game, despite a squad that included ten new caps.
The 42-year-old Andrioli spoke to FIFA.com after the side's winning performance
FIFA.com You must be satisfied with the positive start?
Airton Androli: I said to the players, we can't take the second step before we take the first. Now we have negotiated step one and this has obviously given us the confidence to be ready to take the next step when the next game comes around
Did you think that the first game would be that easy?
There is no such thing as an easy game. A game is only easy when it is made easy by your team. One of the hardest things is to keep your team focused and concentrating when you know you will be playing against a team that everyone thinks you will thrash. I frankly dislike all talk of an easy game and how many goals we are going to score. It makes my job harder to keep the players focused. I'm happy with the way things went, they players did what they had to do.
You are being touted as one of the favourites to succeed in
I'm not worried what everyone says, I believe in the work we have been doing. We have worked very hard for this. We are here to win the gold medal. If I said anything else, I would be lying. My expectation and that of the team and the country is to win the gold medal. The whole country expects it from us and we are going to do our best to go all the way.
Would it have been better for you to have a tougher
opponent in your first game, just to gauge where you are in terms
of your preparations?
A crystal ball would be nice in football, but you never know. The reality is that you are only as good as your last game. That's why we are taking it step by step and we will try to keep the momentum going and keep our focus. We had good preparations in Australia, we spent ten days there. I wish we could have had another three of four games to warm-up in Australia, but unfortunately we didn't. But this team is as good as any other team that the Solomon Islands have had in the past and we are going to try to go all the way.