In December Vanuatu defeated Solomon Islands 3-2 in the Pacific Mini Games to take the gold medal.
For the Solomon Islands it was a tough defeat to take but the nation’s football team remains one of the strongest in Oceania.
Solomon Islands reached the World Cup qualifying final against New Zealand and are the second highest ranked side in Oceania at 151st in the FIFA rankings.
For the champions of Solomon Islands, Solomon Warriors, it will be a mix of home grown players and three stars from Vanuatu who will lead them into the Oceania Champions League.
In the Pacific Mini Games defenders Haddis Aengari and Emmanuel Poila, along with striker Gagame Feni, started for Solomon Islands. Forward Jerry Donga was on the bench but didn’t make an appearance for a final.
They will line up for Solomon Warriors in the O League but three others will come from winning finalists in the Pacific Mini Games, Vanuatu.
Defender Jason Thomas is one of the hottest properties in Oceania. He starred for Vanuatu in the u20 World Cup and the Pacific Mini Games and is likely to interest professional clubs before the end of 2018.
He is joined by talented midfielder John Alick and striker Kensi Tangis as players from Vanuatu.
Tangis in particular is the danger man for Solomon Warriors. After signing for the club in 2017 he scored on his debut in the S-League and since then he has not looked back.
Kensi Tangis, 26, was one of the runaway stars of the Pacific Mini Games in December, scoring four goals in a single game in a 10-0 victory over Tuvalu.
In the final against Solomon Islands Tangis opened the goalscoring for Vanuatu, taking his tournament tally to five goals and his international total to seven in 18 games since his debut in 2011.
Solomon Islands did not qualify for the O League last year but a season which saw them stun champions Marist FC in a 4-3 thriller also generated 12 wins in 14 games to stroll to the title.
The three Vanuatu players have added a new dimension to an already talented and hard-working squad.
With Marist FC featuring the likes of Solomon Islands legend Henry Fa’arodo and eight other players from that Pacific Mini Games squad,
Solomon Islands may have two of the best dark horses for a Champions League run in 2018.
Solomon Warriors in the Oceania Champions League
Solomon Warriors will travel to Papeete in Tahiti to take part in group B of the tournament.
They will face AS Dragon of Tahiti, AS Lossi of New Caledonia and Erakor Golden Star of Vanuatu in the group stage.
They kick off against Erakor Golden Star on Sunday 11 February followed by AS Lossi on 14 February. The final group game will be against AS Dragon on 17 February.