American Samoa put up a valiant display against Samoa and were unlucky not to at least pick up a consolation goal after some daring advances.
Coach Frederick Maiava believes his side has more to offer than what the result against Samoa suggests.
“We’ll be looking at our own game to prepare for Cook Islands.
“I think there’s a little bit of work for our strikers to do, we had a lot of chances and we need to work hard on doing better in that area.”
American Samoa’s defence worked hard but were at times let down by their midfield who weren’t always first to win the clearances. The side also had a number of chances up front but were often let down by their finishing.
Those two areas will need tightening if the side is to turn their fortunes around.
Their opponents tomorrow, Cook Islands, also have areas to work on and concentration is one of them.
The side let Tonga back into the match just before the break and again conceded late in the second half. They will need to retain their poise for the full length of the match if they don’t want any slip-ups against what will be a determined American Samoa side.
Cook Islands coach Richard Anderson knows where improvement is needed and says with the first match out of the way, along with the nerves that go with it, the performance should be much improved come Wednesday.
“I think there’s a lot more to come from us,” he says.
“The boys already have their minds on recovering and preparing for Wednesday.”
After coming so close to potentially salvaging a point from their match against Cook Islands, Tonga are determined to not to let their chance to seize a victory slip through their fingers again.
“I don’t want the boys to be nervous, I want more confidence in the next match,” Timote Moleni says.
“Our finishing can be better – there were a lot of opportunities to score but we didn’t so there is work to be done.”
The side showed plenty of promise and were unlucky not take advantage of some decent opportunities.
But they can’t dwell on that as they face down an imposing Samoa side keen to continue thrilling the home fans.
Samoa were fairly comprehensive in their victory over American Samoa but did let their opponents give them the run around on occasion.
They have a strong side with some exciting individuals in their midst and coach Desmond Faaiuaso will be keen for greater cohesion.
“Our side needed to push harder and play harder after the first half of our first match. We need to work hard as a team,” he says.
“We are always working on high pressing and quick counter attacks, but also being strong in defence.”
American Samoa vs. Cook Islands
J.S. Blatter Football Complex
Wednesday 6 July
Referee: Robinson BANGA (VAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Mahit CHILIA (VAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Gareth SHEEHAN (NZL)
Fourth Official: Amos ANIO (PNG)
Vital Statistics: At 13 years old Masila Siua is the youngest member of the squad.
The Players: Joe Purcell showed a lot of promise up the flank. Steven Fiso combines well with Eliott Lelei up front. All three need to show some improvement in their finishing to capitalise on the chances they create.
Coach Quote: “At times our midfield was very good at winning the ball back against Samoa. We want more of that, and better finishing from our strikers against Cook Islands.”
American Samoa: 1. John UGAITAFA (GK), 2. Joseph CHOI, 3. Tala AUVA’A, 4. Walter PATI, 5. Mahonri LOTULELEI, 6. Bryman LEVAULA, 7. Milo TIATIA, 8. Chris FA’AMOANA, 9. Joe PURCELL, 10. Steven FISO, 11. Gabriel TAUMUA, 12. Takai POULI, 13. Michael SETTLE, 14. Masila SIUA, 15. Roy LEDOUX, 16. Jerome PALEPUA, 17. Vaha TUA, 18. Eliott LELEI, 19. Misipele MUSU, 23. Pesa TAUGAVAU (GK)
Coach: Frederick MAIAVA (ASA)
Vital Statistics: Cook Islands conceded both goals in their match against Tonga in the last minute of each half.
The Players: As expected Conroy Tiputoa put his skills, physicality and speed to use in the opening match. Geosah George and Kimiora Ngametua were surprise packages while defender and captain Grafton Potoru was solid at the back.
Coach Quote: “I know there were a lot of disappointed boys in the changing room after our first match because they know they can do better. We’ll pick them up and we’ll be raring to go on Wednesday.”
Cook Islands: 1. Manaariki PIERRE (GK), 2. Sean IONA, 3. Avi ENOKA, 4. William NAPA, 5. Grafton POTORU, 6. Andrew HERMAN, 7. Geosah GEORGE, 8. Parau ELLIS, 9. Toru MATEARIKI, 10. Conroy TIPUTOA, 11. Lee HARMON, 12. Teokotai TUPUNA, 13. Willynn KARIKA, 14. Teporoa HENRY, 15. Kimiora NGAMETUA, 16. Roimata KARIKA, 17. Daryl AREAI, 20. Finlay MUNRO (GK)
Coach: Richard ANDERSON (ENG)
Tonga vs. Samoa
J.S. Blatter Football Complex
Monday 4 July
Referee: Mederic LACOUR (NCL)
Assistant Referee 1: Bernard MUTUKERA (SOL)
Assistant Referee 2: Douglas METE (SOL)
Fourth Official: Averii JACQUES (TAH)
The Players: Ofa Kite is a strong defender who is hard to beat. Kalakaua Faivailo’s speed is a real asset to the side and he’s fairly handy in possession too.
Coach Quote: “Most of the coaches and people here want to win – like me. Faced with Samoa we will be doing our best to win.”
Tonga: 1. Alifaleti LIKIO (GK), 2. Ofa KITE, 3. Sione VAENUKU, 4. Petueli TOKOTAHA, 5. Falanisesi MAUSIA, 6. Tevita KAU, 7. Tevita SILI, 8. Kalakaua FAIVAILO, 9. Tuia FALEPAPALANGI, 10. Viliami TUKIA, 11. Fonua TALIAULI, 12. William SENITULI, 13. Opesi TUIFANGALOKA, 14. Viliami KAITAPU, 15. William NAU, 16. Pesamino TOMASI, 17. Sitaleki FISI, 18. Ongolea FILO, 19. Alone FAKAVAI, 20. Tevita KAILEA (GK)
Coach: Timote MOLENI (TGA)
Vital Statistics: Samoa managed to retain their lead against American Samoa despite playing out the last ten minutes down one player.
The Players: Willie Sauiluma’s powerful strike caused a lot of trouble for the American Samoa keeper, especially when he shoots from distance. Kitiona Nauer is a confident defender with a good eye from breaking down attacks.
Coach Quote: “We need to prepare well for Tonga’s advances as they will be hard to beat and very determined to win.”
Samoa: 1. Eti FATU (GK), 2. Kitiona NAUER, 3. Joseph MAMEA-HIND, 4. Stanley MAMEA, 5. Stanley SELEMAIA, 6. Osa SAVELIO, 7. Willie SAUILUMA, 8. Jackson NAUTU, 9. Lotial MANO, 10. Jeneum KEPU, 12. Julius DUFFY, 13. Eichard EPA, 14. Falaniko NANUMEA, 15. Paul FELISE, 16. Jefferson FAAMATAU, 17. Jeffrey LEIATAUA, 18. Uilisone GALU, 22. AJ AMOSA (GK), 23. Talita HAFOKA (GK)
Suspended: 11. Dilo TUMUA
Coach: Desmond FAAIUASO (SAM)