Error message

  • Notice: Undefined index: nid in views_handler_field_term_node_tid->pre_render() (line 98 of /var/www/html/docroot/sites/all/modules/views/modules/taxonomy/
  • Notice: Undefined index: nid in views_handler_field_term_node_tid->pre_render() (line 98 of /var/www/html/docroot/sites/all/modules/views/modules/taxonomy/


Solomon Islands Is Closer To Qualifying For The World Cup Than You Think

Solomon Islands has 900 islands, about half a million people and was home to one of the more famous battles in World War II in the South Pacific. And it’s a couple wins away from actually making it to the World Cup. 

Solomon Islands faces New Zealand in a two-legged affair Friday (3:35 a.m. EST) and Tuesday. The winner of the home-and-home series wins Oceania’s half of a World Cup bid and the right to face the fifth-place team from South America for one of the final World Cup berths. 

OK, so that’s a bit of a stretch for a nation ranked 155th in the world, but there’s a chance


Solomon Islands, the Bonitos, have never been to a major international tournament outside of the Oceania Nations Cup. They’ve never been ranked higher than 120 and were ranked 200th as recently as last year. 

This is the second time Solomon Islands has made it to this playoff round. In 2005 they played Australia for the right to face the fifth-place team from CONMEBOL. The Socceroos won the first leg 7-0 in Australia and 2-1 in the Solomon Islands. 

New Zealand isn’t exactly a powerhouse and isn’t even the on par with Australia (now a member of the Asian federation), but the All Whites have been to the World Cup twice, including in 2010 when they went undefeated (and also winless), finishing third in their group. They’ve also been to four Confederations Cups, including this summer, where they finished last without garnering a single point, though they did score against Mexico. 

New Zealand will be the undoubted favorite, but anything can happen over two legs. Solomon Islands is led by former Portland Timbers forward Benjamin Totori, who has 17 goals for the national team. Only one player plays outside of Solomon Islands: Micah Lea’alafa of New Zealand’s Auckland City. In contrast, New Zealand has three players playing in England, including captain Chris Wood of Burnley, plus six more playing in North America. 

The challenge gets tougher when the winner faces the fifth-place team from South America. Currently reigning world runner-up Argentina is in fifth, but Colombia, Uruguay and Chile are all within two points. Who else would love to see Lionel Messi, James Rodriguez, Luis Suarez or Alexis Sanchez playing a match in tiny Solomon Islands?


A bit of background on Solomon Islands, because knowledge is power: The population of about 600,000 (most on six major islands) would make it the smallest country by population to qualify for the World Cup, though it’s almost twice that of Iceland, which is still in the running to qualify out of Europe. 

The islands were given their name by the first Europeans to explore them in 1568. Spanish explorer Mendana dubbed the region Isle de Solomon as a reference to the riches of King Solomon and the biblical land of gold. The islands have high levels of biodiversity with vibrant wildlife both on the islands and offshore in the oceans. 

One of the islands, Guadalcanal, became a central figure in World War II when it was invaded by Japan in 1942. As recent as 1998, armed conflict erupted between rival tribes requiring nearby Australia and New Zealand to step in to bring a stop to the fighting. 


The Solomon Islands draws five-figure crowds to home matches despite a population of 200,000 on the main island. If they can qualify for the World Cup, they’ll be the ultimate underdog, at least until Iceland qualifies.

Now we here at The18 are completely unbiased and totally professional about rooting interests, but it’s hard not to root for the plucky upstarts. Plus, this could be Solomon Islands’ last chance to qualify for the World Cup. The nation could disappear in the future due to global warming, with five islands already having disappeared in the last 70 years and six more have been severely eroded. 

No pressure or anything guys, but you’ve got one shot at this. Don’t blow it. 

Videos you might like