Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek
The OFC U-19 Women’s Championship 2023 reaches the semi-final stage this week, with four nations – Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand and Cook Islands – still in the hunt for the title in Suva.
Samoa and Cook Islands, two of the smaller nations competing in the tournament, have defied many expectations to advance to the final four and are hoping that ideal preparations for Wednesday’s fixtures will give them a chance of ultimate glory in the Final on Saturday.
Samoa will meet host nation side Fiji in the first of the two semi-finals at HFC Bank Stadium and are in confident mood having come through an epic penalty-shoot victory in their quarter-final over Tahiti.
“We’re super proud of their performance, their attitude and mostly their behaviour. The key at the moment is just resting, you know too much water kills the plant, so we have to let them rest, let them recover and don’t lose their focus,” explained Samoa Head Coach Juan Chang Urrea.
With a deep run into the tournament, Urrea has been conscious of the need to balance the rest and recovery across the squad.
“We have taken some training at the moment. We have the girls that played most of the games getting some rest and the others trained a little bit more to ensure that everyone is ready to take to the field,” Urrea continued.
In the second semi-final on Wednesday evening, Cook Islands face their biggest test at the competition so far when they face defending champions and tournament favourites, New Zealand, who ran out impressive 19-0 victors over Solomon Islands in their quarter-final assignment.
Head Coach Tuka Tasim is confident that following the emotional 2-1 win against Vanuatu on Sunday night, his group are ready to face what lies ahead of them.
“I think the girls are settled right now. They’re prepared mentally for this next game, this huge game against New Zealand, so we’re trying to get any niggles and injuries out of the way and prepare them for tomorrow’s match,” Tasim said
Their match-up with New Zealand brings together two teams with very different pre-tournament expectations and Tasim was effusive in his praise for how far his Cook Islands side have come.
“Yeah, hugely proud with the girls. This group of girls, came out three months ago with me and worked hard and to be able to finish in the top four or third or even take the cup out after New Zealand I dunno, we’ll see! But yeah, very proud of them,” he continued.
Regardless of the results across both semi-finals, we should be set for an exciting final few days at OFC U-19 Women’s Championship, with not only the trophy up for grabs but qualification for the 2024 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup also on the line.
You can catch all the action on both remaining match days LIVE on OFC TV at the OFC website.
1500 Samoa v Fiji | WATCH LIVE
1900 New Zealand v Cook Islands | WATCH LIVE
PLAY-OFF FOR THIRD PLACE
1500 Loser Semi-Final 1 v Loser Semi-Final 2 | WATCH LIVE
1900 Winner Semi-Final 1 v Winner Semi-Final 2 | WATCH LIVE