BELFAST: Oceania’s two representatives at the Northern Ireland Milk Cup finished on a good note with Samoa taking out the tournament’s prestigious Fair play award while for the second consecutive time, Otago were able to survive a tense penalty shootout to record its second win finishing fifth overall in the Premier Division (U17).
For Samoa, being awarded the Fair play award ahead of the huge number of other teams in the tournament was some consolation for failing to win a single match. The award came about through the collective discipline of all the players in the team. Samoa lost its last match in the Junior Division playoffs, 0-7, to Cherry Orchard, conceding four goals in the first half.
But their effort was not overlooked by the appreciative Irish spectators who gave a resounding ovation for the Samoans when coach David Brand was presented the award. The Samoans proved hugely popular at the Milk Cup and through their cheery smiles, warmed to the hearts of the locals and helped make this year’s tournament the success it was.
Otago on the other hand, showed spirit and determination to come out on top for their second victory in almost carbon copy circumstances. Against NK Factor in the Dunluce Trophy playoff for 5th and 6th place, Otago fought out a tough 0-0 draw after regulation and extra time. And with the pressure on, the New Zealanders again rose to the occasion to win the penalty shootout 7-6. Finishing fifth in the premier division was a good result after the team suffered early defeats which put them out of the Milk Cup finals.
In other results, Brazil were upset by fellow South Americans Paraguay 2-3 in the Elite Division final played in front of 2,000 people at Coleraine. In the Premier Division final, glamour English club Manchester United were pushed right to the end to win on a golden goal against Preston North End. And in the Junior Division final, Argentinean club Racing beat Scottish team Hearts 1-0.