Former Solomon Islands international Commins Menapi who died over the weekend after a short illness will be greatly missed, says his former Nadi teammate Maika Kasami.
Kasami a former Fiji midfielder who played alongside Menapi in the mid-year 2000 season told FijiLive he was stunned and shocked with the news of his passing last Saturday.
“We have surely lost a good dedicated and talented player, brother and on behalf of all my team mates that played with him we send our condolences to his family in this time of sorrow.”
“He played with us along with Alick Maemae. Together with the Solomon Islands connection, he brought with him a vast experience of having played top level soccer in New Zealand.”
“He was a very soft spoken individual on and off the field. He was rated as a top striker alongside Batrum Suri, Stanley Waita and Maemae. I remember there was a buzz in town when the news came of him joining Nadi,” said Kasami who now works as a journalist.
“Though he did not win any trophies with Nadi, he had inspired young players by representing Nadi in those years when Nadi imported players from Solomon Islands.”
“After representing Nadi he went on to become one of the top strikers for Waitakere United that played Ba in the two legged O-League final in 2007. I also got to meet him at Govind Park afte he scored the decisive away goal in their 1-2 first leg loss,” he added.
Menapi was 40 and his playing career spanned from 1998 to 2013.
He contributed to Nelson (3 games), Manawatū (21 games, 12 goals) and Waitākere (39 games, 21 goals) outfits in the National Premiership, as well as sides in Australia, Fiji and the Solomon Islands.
In Fiji, apart from representing Nadi, Menapi also appeared briefly for Nasinu and Navua.
On the international scene, he will be remembered for scoring two goals in the Solomon Islands' 2-2 draw against Australia in the 2004 Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Nations Cup, denying the Australians a perfect run through pool play.
Menapi made 37 appearances for the Solomon Islands from 2000-2009, finding the back of the net 34 times.
Since hanging up his boots, he continued to give back to the Solomon Islands football community through coaching.
He led Western United to domestic titles and some impressive performances at the OFC Champions League, and remained on the international scene in a coaching capacity at age-group levels.
Menapi was laid to rest on Wednesday and was farewelled by hundreds including his former club and country teammates.
By Reginald Chandar