Samoa aim to close gap

Next month’s OFC Nations Cup in Papua New Guinea will be Samoa’s second regional campaign.
Their debut at the 2012 edition of the tournament in Honiara was a baptism of fire with comprehensive defeats in all three of their group matches to finish in last place.
Football Federation Samoa’s CEO Faumuina Michael Kapisi says the team is determined to prove that they are capable of competing with other Oceania nations at this level.
“We are hoping to show that Samoa has closed the gap on the top tier nations in OFC and for us this is an opportunity to take another step towards our vision of ‘Winning Games in Oceania’,” he says.
“If we can pick up points at this tournament, it will be a massive improvement on our last outing at this level in 2012 where our closest game was a 5-0 loss.”
Kapisi admits Samoa face some tough challenges in terms of their preparations for the tournament.
“For us it is difficult. It is very hard to get the team meaningful gameplay.
“The kind of gameplay that will be of a level at which they are going to face in PNG is not achievable here in Samoa.”
He says most of their preparations took place in Wellington where the national team toured in March.
“The tour was a good opportunity for the coaching staff to get a look at players in games against quality opposition and under the sort of pressure they will face in PNG.
“The local contingent will continue to train here in Samoa before being joined by the overseas contingent to complete preparations with a camp prior to departing for the Nations Cup.”
Kapisi says the Nations Cup is a crucial tournament for his country especially in regards to the future development of the game.
“It is a great opportunity for us to put football on the tip of people’s tongues here in Samoa.’ he says.
“To have a positive showing at this tournament will be vital to the promotion of the game in Samoa and will hopefully raise awareness of the opportunity people have to play football here in Samoa and potentially compete at tournaments like this themselves one day.”
Samoa will begin their 2016 Nations Cup campaign against defending champions Tahiti on 28 May.
Three days later they’ll meet another Francophone side New Caledonia before their final Group A clash against hosts Papua New Guinea on 4 June.

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