Oceania Football Confederation history will be made as 11 teams pursue regional supremacy and a place in next year’s FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup.
Maaka has been playing football for six years now and this will be the second Oceania championship she has competing in.
The Cook Islands team has been training really hard, she says. The first match for the Cook Islands will be Vanuatu.
Maaka hopes all the hard training will pay off, saying she’s only worried about the New Zealand team, who have been the biggest challenge in previous years.
“They are quick and fast,” she says.
The Cook Islands will carry the weight of local expectations, especially on the back of the national women’s team’s impressive third place finish at the recent Pacific Games.
Coach Tuka Tisam has been training the women hard, and he says this year they have two overseas based Cook Islanders from New Zealand who have joined the team.
He is not too worried but says New Zealand will definitely be a challenge for them and making it to the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup is a dream they have had for a long time.
Today, Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia will get the competition underway in Group C, before the attention turns to Group A and Solomon Island’s clash with Fiji followed by the final game on the opening match day: Vanuatu v hosts Cook Islands.
Tisam says “Vanuatu will be tough. All teams in our pool will be tough, so it won’t be easy to get out of the group. To win our group and go through the semi-finals is everyone’s goal to do so we just have to take one game at a time and now focus on our first game.”