The four teams – Samoa, Tonga, American Samoa and host Cook Islands – will get a taste of a ‘professional football’ experience when they compete in the OFC U19 Championship Qualifiers.
The four nations are playing for a place in the OFC U19 Championship finals tournament, which is scheduled to take place in Tahiti in August.
The format of the competition is a round-robin league, with two games scheduled for each match day. Teams will play once each over the three match days – with two rest days between game days.
The opening game of the championship will see American Samoa take on Samoa at 1.30pm.
American Samoa head coach Tunoa Lui is realistic about their chances in the match.
“We know we are the underdogs and our team is fairly young but you never know – we believe that with what we’ve been doing in the last two months preparing this team, we are progressing,” Lui said.
“We know Samoa is strong – they’ve got a really good team. They’ve got a few off-island players. We just want to play our game and we will see from there and hope our boys are up for it and stick to the game plan and hopefully it will work.”
Samoan head coach Valerio Raccuglia says that he will settle for nothing less than a win.
“We play to win and anything less than that is no good,” said Raccuglia.
“But American Samoa is a bit of a derby. You never know what to expect, but I think we will be OK.
“It will be a good game as it always is because nobody wants to lose their game, so looking forward to it.”
The host team Cook Islands will take on Tonga in the second match today at 4.30pm.
“This is a tight-knit bunch of guys, they know each other well from school and from playing with and against each other since they were very young,” said Cook Islands head coach Alan Taylor.
“They get on well together and enjoy each other’s company, which is very important. They have been training for this tournament since February and are now looking forward to playing the matches.”
Taylor says his team is focused on their match against Tonga.
“We don’t know anything about the opposition, but our players will do their very best and that is all we can ask,” he said.
Entry fee to the match at the CIFA Complex is $3. Family, friends, locals or football enthusiasts are more than welcome to support the national team.
- CIFA Media