The new Solomon Islands head coach, Felipe Vega-Arango talks about coming back to the Solomon Islands and taking on the new job.
The Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) announced the return of the Spaniard, who has previously held the role of Technical Director at SIFF, earlier this week.
Speaking exclusively to Football in Oceania, Vega-Arango talks about coming back to “just” coach the senior men’s team this time, something he also did for a short stint when he was TD.
“I took the job because I love coaching and Solomon has wonderful talents and we can improve a lot,” he says.
“Also the time that I was the technical director and I coached the team for a short period, it was nice but too much work. TD and coach is really hard, now I can focus just on training. I always wanted to do this.”
The general consensus is that Vega-Arango is remembered with fondness in the Solomon Islands, and he says he has received “really positive” feedback from both the players and regular people in the Solomons.
“I think is really important that I know the country. It is really important, I know how things work here, I know the culture, I have more experience, I know a lot of the players.
“The feedback has been really positive from regular people to players. Most people appreciate the job done in the past.”
Pacific Games a priority
His first target as head coach of the senior team will be to guide them through the qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, but it’s another tournament that has caught his eye.
“We have not set a target yet (for World Cup qualification), but it is obvious that winning the gold in the Pacific Games 2023 here in Honiara is a priority. Also, even though is a long time project, qualifying to the 2026 WC would be amazing. But for now the main goal is to work really hard, to practice hard, and to make the players the best possible, get the best out of them.
“There is talent here and the players have to believe in themselves. That’s really important,” Vega-Arango says.