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Pacific test for Jersey on Uefa debut

Football | Published:

JERSEY’S top juniors have the chance to make a statement on behalf of their football association tonight as they play the Island’s first-ever fixture arranged with the assistance of Uefa.

The visiting Solomon Island's U17 team at Springfield on Thursday. (24506068)

A mixed-aged Caesarean side host U17 World Cup qualifiers the Solomon Islands at Springfield at 7pm, having been offered the friendly by European officials in the wake of Jersey FA’s failed bid to become a Uefa member. Uefa are supporting the Solomon Islands in their mini tour to Europe, with Uefa international relations project specialist Chris Milnes helping smooth their path.

The Melanesian side reached the 2019 World Cup in Brazil as the second-ranked nation in Oceania, although their place is currently in doubt. They were banished earlier this year for fielding an over-aged player in qualifying and are awaiting the result of an appeal.

The visitors are also playing in a Uefa-sponsored tournament in Belarus next week – against some of Europe’s top youngsters – leaving Jersey with an opportunity to stake their claim for comparable invites.

Although Jersey receive no financial backing from Uefa, its importance is obvious. Said JFA Link Asset Services Centre of Excellence boss Paul Renton: ‘It’s a carrot for us in terms of the opportunities we could get for future fixtures, but we know it will be a very challenging game.

‘I think the Solomon Islands will have a bit of pace in their team and they have one or two big boys in there – they’re obviously a good side with good players.’

He added: ‘When they finish here they go to Minsk for the Uefa tournament, whereas our boys will be back to local football. There’s the difference for us.

‘It should be a good night and it’s something different for supporters to come and watch. How often are people going to get the opportunity to watch a side from the Solomon Islands?’

The U17 World Cup was won by England in 2017, with the help of now-big name players including Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden and Callum Hudson-Odoi.

The Solomon Islands impressed in a short training session at Springfield yesterday – and showed immaculate timing in finishing before a heavy downpour.

Jersey: Xavier Sundby, Kushal Frankson, Thomas Harris, Daniel Burton (all St Clement), Ryan Marcinko, Sol Solomon, James Carr, Tommy Boarer, Jack Lowery (St Peter), Joe Kilshaw, Sammy Sutcliffe (St Paul’s), Josh Coutanche, Max Corbett (Jersey Wanderers), Calum Huckerby, Harry Baines (St Ouen).

Jason Fox

By Jason Fox
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