Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) will stage the round-robin championship at North Harbour Stadium on Auckland’s North Shore from 5-9 October. American Samoa, Cook Islands, New Zealand and Tonga will compete for a place at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany next July.
The Football Federation American Samoa (FFAS) squad had a robust final practice match on home soil last Saturday ahead of their departure for Auckland this weekend.
Luvu says he was satisfied with the team’s performance after they had matched up respectably against a team consisting of FFAS male referees at Pago Park Soccer Stadium.
The U-20 women lost 0-3 to the ‘Referees Eleven’ but Luvu was pleased with his squad’s physical competitiveness and improved cohesiveness.
The FFAS coaching staff saw added value in matching up the male players against the U-20 women’s team because of their superior strength and speed, especially since their first opponent at next week’s championship is New Zealand, the reigning Oceania U-20 champions.
The New Zealand squad also includes 14 players that represented their country at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup NZ 2008, so Luvu is well aware that his American Samoan squad face a huge challenge on the opening day of the tournament.
“Against the referees on Saturday, I was happy with my team’s performance because they did a number of things well,” said Luvu.
“They read the game better and executed really well on the things we have been working on since we first started training. They were focused on what was going on in the field, closed down on the gaps much faster and their communication with one another was much better.”
He went on to say that he saw a huge improvement but wants them to build on that form even further when the tournament begins on Monday.
“There are a few things we still need to work on but I was really happy with their performance, especially with a few players that I’ve been keeping an eye on.”
Two players, Fetu Lakisa and Jermaima Fuatino Kaleopa, went down with ankle injures last week and their status is uncertain at the moment. There are two players who had been eliminated from the final confirmed traveling squad after initially training with the wider trial squad. A final judgment on whether they will now rejoin the touring squad will be made shortly.
Team management will name the team’s captain later this week and Luvu says he has decided on the 11 players he expects to start in next Monday’s championship opener against New Zealand.