Honiara heat will test the Socceroos
By JONATHAN HARLEN
THE Socceroos will face a tough test against the Solomon Islands in their crunch match in Honiara on Saturday, according to Soccer Far North Coast coaching and development manager Tim Jerks.
Jerks recently returned from a two-month stint in the South Pacific, where he took charge of the Cook Islands' World Cup qualifying team at the Oceania Nations Cup.
His squad was in a pool with traditional powerhouses the Solomons, Tahiti and New Caledonia.
While minnows the Cook Islands were expected to come last, his brief was to bolster their defence and keep the losses to a minimum.
"We lost to the Solomons 5-0 in Honiara, which was a very good result for us," he said.
"The Solomons are a very strong team. They have two world class strikers in Cummins Menapi and Alex Mamae, and they play an attacking 4-3-3 formation which suits their explosive brand of football."
After winning their pool at the Oceania Nations Cup, the Solomons went on to beat New Zealand and grind out a surprise 2-all draw with a depleted Australia in Adelaide.
It meant the Solomons progressed to play Australia home and away for the right to represent Oceania against the fifth-placed South American team for the final place at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
"When Australia plays the Solomons in Honiara, they will need to be well prepared for the heat," Jerks warned.
"The humidity there is a killer. Ideally players need to arrive a week beforehand to acclimatise, and carefully monitor fluid intake.
"The Socceroos need to play a pressing game, to force the Solomons into errors and upset their rhythm.
"I'm sure Frank Farina will be aware of this. I believe our boys are more than up to the challenge, but they must go to Honiara prepared for the heat and ready to work hard."