By STEPHEN DIISANGO
THE mighty unbeaten Malaita Eagles Soccer men’s team has again set history in the Malaita Football Association (MFA) after defending the Solomon Cup 2017 championship on Saturday 15th July.
The team knocks Central Shields 2-1 in an electrifying grand final match in front of a huge crowd at the Lawson Tama Pitch.
The win puts Malaita ahead of other Provinces for shielding the trophy for the fourth time in history since the inauguration of the Cup in 1991.
For Central Province Football Association, there is no exception as Central Shields inked history in their record book for making it for the first time ever through to the grand final of the Solomon Cup since its inception 26 years ago.
However, an early goal converted by Clement Baegeni from a penalty seen Malaita leading Central in the first half of the game.
The second stanza seen Central back on the pitch sharp and gallant as they regrouped with dangerous counter attack on the Malaita side searching for an equalizer.
Central quest was paid off with a gifted penalty.
Captain Oscar Sara made no error fired home an equalizer to levelled the score margin at 1-1
The equalizer was nerve shivering as both teams put on spectacular performance in search for a winning goal with Malaita made several attempts to extend their score line but miss the target.
The determined Central made powerful runs deep into the Malaita half with several attempts but could not utilize the chances.
The second stanza is an equal challenge as both teams continued to counter each other’s territory.
Malaita winning goal came in the 75th minute from a converted free kick by Captain Andrew Raragia and netted by a defender leaving Central shields goal keeper frozen as he watch the ball hit the back of the net.
Malaita Coach Terry Oiaka while applauding his boys for retaining the title for the fourth time said the victory comes no easy.
He said they are satisfied with the victory and honoured to represent their Province (Malaita).
Malaita Eagles received a trophy, 30 gold medals plus fifty thousand dollars cash prize.
Central Shields received 30 silver medals plus $30,000.00 cash prize while Western Turtles who settled on the third spot received 30 bronze medals and $20,000.00 cash prize and the fourth blessing were awarded to Lauru (Choiseul) with a $10,000.00 cash prize.
For individual awards, Clement Baegeni – Striker of Malaita Eagles snatched the golden boot award, Jerry Tom – Goal Keeper of Malaita Eagles received golden glove award and Clifton Aumae of Malaita Eagles received golden Ball award.
Isabel Frigates received Fair Play Award.
Meanwhile, there were overwhelming congratulations and best wishes flooding social media and in the National Malaitans Forum to the team (Malaita Eagles) following the victory yesterday.
Solomon Fresh-Beat Online understands a proper celebration will be organised for the team when they return to Malaita Province this week.
Here is a timeline of the Solomon Cup since its initiation in 1991.
1991: Honiara Warriors 4 – 2 Western Turtles
1992: Honiara Warriors 4 – 0 Guadalcanal Hornets
1994: Guadalcanal Hornets draw Honiara Warriors [7-6 pen]
1995: No Solomon Cup
1996: Honiara Warriors 2 – 0 Malaita Eagles
1997: Malaita Eagles 3 – 2 Guadalcanal Hornets
1998: Honiara Warriors 1 – 0 Malaita Eagles
1999: Malaita Eagles 1 – 0 Temotu Arrows
2000-04: No Solomon Cup
2005: Honiara Warriors 2 – 1 Temotu Arrows
2006: No Solomon Cup
2007: No Senior Men’s Solomon Cup but competition was held for the Under-23 age category and East Honiara Lions conquered Central Honiara Eels 1 – 0 (Under-23)
2008: No Solomon Cup
2009: Malaita Eagles 8 – 0 Guadalcanal Hornets
2010 – 2016: No Solomon Cup
2017: Malaita Eagles 2 – 1 Central Shield