Christmas came early for Tupapa Maraerenga as the club made Cook Islands football history after claiming the CIFA Cup and the Round Cup in both the men’s and women’s divisions for the first time in a single season.
The premier men’s final had the crowd on the edge of their seats in an intense encounter between Tupapa and Nikao Sokattak which finished in a penalty shootout. The first half was a scoreless deadlock with Tupapa looking set to take the victory after taking the lead. The opener came courtesy of Grover Harmon just after the hour mark. Harmon buried the penalty awarded after Geoffrey Strickland was brought down in the box.
Nikao shot back with a reply seven minutes later when Steven Willis flicked the ball up before nailing an impressive overhead kick to level the score.
The lead was back in Tupapa’s favour when Mii Joseph saw Nikao goalkeeper Basil Matapo off his line, and sent a lob up and over, into the back of the net.
A penalty in Nikao’s favour with less then ten minutes remaining saw the Alex Napa coached side draw even for the second time in the encounter, the honour going to Owenne Matapo who made no mistake from the spot.
With the score locked at 2-2 the match headed directly to a penalty shootout. Tupapa made no mistakes, while an unlucky Nikao missed just once to hand the title of 2019 Premier Men’s CIFA Cup winners to their opponents Tupapa Maraerenga.
The second big final of the day was another animated match, this time between Titikaveka and Tupapa Maraerenga in the senior women’s division.
Tupapa made their intentions known early in the piece when a persistant Kura Tare slipped the ball past the opposing keeper to open the score in the 4th minute.
Natalia Short took the initiative for Titikaveka in the 25th minute, sending a long range effort from just inside halfway to beat the keeper and level the score.
Just like the men’s final, the two sides proved inseparable inside regulation time with the final also set to be decided by a penalty shootout.
Tupapa goalkeeper Tupou Brogan got her hands on two of Titikaveka’s efforts while Tupapa missed just one of theirs, which was still enough to join the premier men on the podium with the 2019 CIFA Cup in their hands.
The U-14 girls final kicked off the day taking the field at 12:30pm. Matavera scored early to put Puaikura on the back foot. Puaikura were down 1-0 at half-time but made a significant comeback in the second half to secure a 3-2 win. Their goals were scored by Teupoko Tuariki and Pekarau Mataio while their opponents, Matavera-Ngatangiia’s goals were scored by Here Mapu (2)
In the U-14 boys final the scores remained level for most of the match until a late clincher by Puaikura’s Nia Remuera in the 40th minute sealed their fate and Puaikura emerged as the winners.
FULL RESULTS FROM THE FINALS:
Tupapa Maraerenga FC 0-1 Avatiu FC
Avatiu FC 5-2 Nikao Sokattak FC
Titikaveka FC 3-1 Matavera FC
Puaikura FC 3-2 Matavera-Ngatangiia FC
Puaikura FC 1-0 Tupapa Maraerenga FC
Tupapa Maraerenga FC 1-2 Puaikura FC
Tupapa Maraerenga FC 7-6 Titikaveka FC
Tupapa Maraerenga 9-8 Nikao Sokattak FC