Oceania Football Confederation > News > Cook Islands > Development squad proves their worth

Development squad proves their worth

The side, coached by CIFA women’s development officer Tahiri Ekikana with assistance from Maryanne Miller and Elizabeth Harmon, will play three matches during their tour, with two already under their belts.
The first saw them notch a 4-0 victory over east-Auckland club Fencibles United’s U-15 team, before playing out a 3-2 loss against the AFF Federation Talent Centre’s U-15 squad. They have one last match remaining, once again against the FTC side on Wednesday, 30 April.
For assistant coach Miller it has been good to see the girls in action after having seen them do the hard yards back in the Cook
“They’ve been training together for about seven to eight months,” she says.
“They are a great bunch of young players and we’ve been impressed with what they’ve been doing here in New Zealand.”
She says their first result was a great reflection of the side and their ability to work together as a team.
“It was a really exciting game to watch. We saw some good skills and some good tactical skills, which is what our philosophy has been about,” Miller explains.
“The girls were just a great unit and the past two days they have been gelling and becoming a great team – and that showed on the pitch.”
The side’s second game came just one day after their first, which could explain their tired first-half performance which saw them go three-goals behind. However an encouraging speech from the coaches during the break saw them come back with greater determination, finding the goal twice and coming close to bringing themselves in line with their Auckland-based opponents.
“They’re a bit tired and I think the excitement of being in New Zealand has worn off a bit and they know they’re here to do something,” Miller explains.
“They did the business on the field on Sunday, and coming out today [Monday] it’s a bit colder, which they’re not used to, and it has taken a bit longer to get into the game.
“The second-half was a lot better after it took us a good 35 minutes to get going and that’s something we’ll work on and hopefully it won’t take as long on Wednesday.”
Miller says seeing the side come back from a three goal deficit to finish 3-2 was encouraging and proof of the young players’ character.
“At half-time we talked about keeping their heads up and staying positive really. This age group is quite and emotional age group so it’s easy to drop your heads and give up. For us it’s about doing your job and doing it well, remembering you have a role in the team and realising that if everyone does it then the team works as a really solid unit.”
With one match remaining, Miller is confident they can end their short tour on a high.
“Every game is a big game for us and coming here is about proving our worth, and I think the girls have done themselves proud today.”
The tour is a culmination of the training the girls have been doing throughout the year, but Miller says despite their hard work and the skills they’ve been developing, it won’t be the team that represents the Cook Islands at next year’s OFC U-17 Women’s Championship.
“Unfortunately they won’t take part in that competition because over half of them will be too old,” she states.
“When we get back to the Cook Islands we retain five of the current squad and then a new lot come in and we start training again.”
For more on Cook Islands football go to www.cookislandsfootball.com

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