Azariah Soromon breaks through as Oceania’s new wonderkid

There is something exciting happening in Oceania football.

In New Zealand, 21-year-old Kiwi Angus Kilkolly is impressing with his goalscoring feats at Team Wellington.

In the US, 20-year-old Kiwi Myer Bevan has had a breakout year, scoring twice in the under-20 World Cup and signing an MLS contract with Vancouver Whitecaps.

And across the Pacific islands the goalscoring exploits of the next generation are starting to catch the eye.

Vanuatu won the Pacific Mini Games football tournament against the rest of the Oceania international teams (except New Zealand) and it was a set of young strikers who helped them to the title.

Tony Kaltack, still only 21, scored five goals. He netted two against Tonga and a hat trick against tournament minnows Tuvalu to finish joint-third top scorer.

But even the talented Erakor Golden Star striker was eclipsed by an 18-year-old who could be the most talented striker to ever come out of Vanuatu.

Azariah Soromon came on for Kaltack in a friendly against Estonia in November to make his Vanuatu debut and was included in the Pacific Mini Games squad.

Once there he hit the ground running, scoring an injury-time winner against New Caledonia (it finished 2-1) and a double against Tonga in a 5-0 rout.

The first was a fine low finish from inside the area, while the second had a dose of fortune about it as a free kick looped up and over the keeper from the right wing.

Soromon scores against Tonga

In his third game he scored against Fiji in a 1-1 draw and followed it up with two goals in the 10-0 thrashing of Tuvalu.

With six goals in as many games, Soromon finished the tournament as second top-scorer, only behind 21-year-old Fijian Saula Waqa with seven.

Soromon plays for his hometown club Tupuji Imere but it should only be a matter of time before attention is turned to the young striker from elsewhere.

It is clear Soromon is part of a golden generation of Vanuatu footballers. midfielder Bong Kalo was a star in the tournament, while Kensi Tengis scored five goals.

However, Soromon was the stand-out surprise of the mini games. In it he showed plenty of ability – his late runs into the box, composure in front of goal and natural finishing were all on show as he helped Vanuatu to the title.

Amazingly, Soromon, Waqa and Kaltack were not the only youngsters to stand out.

Adrian Mara, 19, of Solomon Islands scored four goals – the same as Solomon legend and strike partner Benjamin Totori – ten years his senior.

Talented New Caledonia midfielder Shane Welepane was his side’s top scorer with three goals and he will showcase his talent in the Oceania Champions League in February with club side Magenta.

It is a new year for Oceania football and a new beginning for many of the national teams who ply their trade at the bottom end of the FIFA rankings.

But optimism is rife in the game at the moment as a new generation of goalscorers emerge – led by the energetic goalscoring exploits of Azariah Soromon.

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