“Players need to adapt to pressure”: Houkarawa

Boosting win for U-17s

Alfred Poiga of Marist FC shields the ball from a U-17 player during their friendly match at Lawsom Tama on Saturday. U-17s won 1-0…Photo Taromane Martin.

ADAPTING to playing under pressure is still an area which the Solomon Islands national Under-17 squad for the 2017 OFC U-17 qualifies in Tahiti needs to work on.

Head coach Marhlon Houkarawa said while there are improvements, playing under pressure is something his players need to learn and handle.

“Players are improving a lot. They created lots of chances however the only issue I find from our friendly today (Saturday) is that most of the players seemed to be under pressure, passing the ball away unnecessary.

“They are not used to playing in front of such crowd and against senior teams. There were elements of it during our previous friendly matches which was still there today (Saturday),” Houkarawa told Sun SPORTS after their 1-0 win over O-League bound Marist F over the weekend.

“The only thing needed is players need to learn to condition themselves and learn how to play under pressure.

“Going up against a player is another thing and being under pressure is like extra another opponent they must beat.

“Like I always tell them playing in front of our local crowds is a totally different pressure compared to playing overseas.

“And so it is important they learn to play under pressure locally so as to handle the pressure playing overseas,” the former Solomon Islands central defender Houkarawa says.

Houkarawa says the only way for the players to learn how to handle being under pressure is to play more friendly matches.

“A win against a big club like Marist FC is a big boost in morale for the players, as well as to rally public support behind the team.

“We will play Marist FC again this Wednesday before taking on Western United Fc on Saturday,” the coach adds.

Ally Mekawin scored the lone goal for the national U-17 to see them pick up a boosting win over the 2016 Telekom Soccer League champions Marist Fc.

Meanwhile Houkarawa says he is already identifying his potential starting 11 for their campaign.

He adds that he will be using only 18 players for their last two local friendly matches before they depart for Australia at the end of this month for three more friendly matches before the start of the 2017 OFC U017 qualifies in Tahiti next month.

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