Cooks out of U19 qualifier

Thursday May 31, 2018 Written by Published in Soccer
Cook Islands lost their second match 0-1 to Samoa in the 2018 OFC U19 Championship Qualifi er on Tuesday at the CIFA Complex. 18053020 Cook Islands lost their second match 0-1 to Samoa in the 2018 OFC U19 Championship Qualifi er on Tuesday at the CIFA Complex. 18053020

Cook Islands lost all hope of making it through the 2018 OFC U19 Championship Qualifier after their second loss on Tuesday at the CIFA Complex in Matavera.

 

The national side lost to Samoa 0-1 following their 0-3 loss to Tonga in the tournament opener on Saturday.

In the other match on day two, Tonga defeated American Samoa 2-0. American Samoa lost to Samoa in their opening encounter.

Following a tense and highly competitive afternoon of football on Tuesday, only Tonga and Samoa remain on target to book their ticket for the next stage of the competition later in the year in Tahiti.

The two teams will battle it out in the final round of match tomorrow, with the winner heading to the main competition.

Winless American Samoa and hosts Cook Islands will both be determined to end their campaign on a high.

The Alan Taylor-coached national side needed a win against Samoa to get them back on track in the four-team tournament, but lost to Samuelu Malo second-half goal.

With very little separating the two teams, it seemed only some individual brilliance could break the deadlock and that’s exactly what happened when the best player on the night, Samuelo Malo, kept his cool to give Samoa the lead in the 78th minute.

Cook Islands kept pushing forward looking for an equaliser and with a minimum of five minutes of extra time added on by the referee, the Samoans had to withstand a nerve-wracking finale before holding onto the narrowest of wins over the hosts.

Samoa coach Valerio Raccuglia couldn’t hide his relief after the final whistle.

“I thought Cook Islands fought really hard, today was obviously their last game if they don’t win, so they were going to come out fighting and in the last 10 minutes you could see they were looking for this goal. Yeah, they are a good side.”

The Samoa coach admitted his side had plenty to work on before their final showdown against Tonga.

Cook Islands, meanwhile, have left with only pride to play for when they meet American Samoa on the final match day and it’s a tough pill to swallow for coach Taylor.

“Incredibly disappointing, that’s it now. It’s out for us, yeah there are tears.

“It’s all about winning and there is one more game to go and pride will be there, but it could take two days to pick them up I think, they are very disappointed,” Taylor said after the loss.

Meanwhile Soane Mailangi’s Tonga made their intentions clear from the outset by pressing high up the field to put American Samoa’s defence under plenty of early pressure.

They didn’t need to wait for long to be rewarded for their efforts, taking a 7th minute lead courtesy of the lively Atunaisa Namoa.

Inspired by their potent attacking trio, Tuia Falepapalangi, Anthony Likiliki and goalscorer Namoa, the Tongans kept pouring forward looking for a second, however they were left frustrated by a well-drilled American Samoan defence and their keeper MJ Faoa Danielesen who made a number of crucial saves to limit the damage to a single goal deficit at the break.

If there were any nerves in the Tonga camp during half-time they quickly disappeared just five minutes after the restart as Namoa popped up again to double his sides lead, grabbing a brace for himself in the process.

Knowing that goal difference could decide the outcome in the final analyses, Tonga was determined to finish the game with a flourish but the young American Samoans had other ideas.

Rather than falling apart they kept their composure and structure to defend well and create some good attacking opportunities at the other end.

Despite their best efforts Tonga had to remain content with a hard fought 2-0 win which kept them on track to reach the next stage of an OFC competition in the first time ever in Tonga’s football history.

            - OFC/CIFA MEDIA

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