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Kia Orana Youth Football Festival wraps up

Kia Orana Youth Football Festival U-16 boys champions Tupapa Maraerenga.

Tupapa Maraerenga and Ellerslie Mustangs have claimed the first ever Kia Orana Youth Football Festival boys and girls titles, respectfully, after winning their final matches in the inaugural U-16 competition at CIFA Sports Complex in Matavera on Sunday.

New Zealand-based team Ellerslie Mustangs were well deserving of the girls title, proving their dominance in the final with a 3-0 win against fellow finalists Puaikura FC after a comfortable 4-0 win against Aitutaki in the semi-final.

Falling short of the final after a 5-3 penalty shootout loss to Puaikura, New Zealand’s other representatives in the girls competition, Beachlands Fury, saw a more positive outcome in their third place play-off, outscoring Aitutaki 5-4 in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw at full time.

The all-local boys final saw Tupapa Maraerenga upset competition favourites Takitumu Pirates – which featured a wealth of talented players from Titikaveka, Matavera and Ngatangiia – with a single goal in the second half.

Tupapa Maraerenga clutched on to their one-goal lead until the final whistle to become the first champions of the U-16 boys competiton.

The third place play-off saw a more one-sided performance, with Puaikura FC – who missed out on the final after a close 1-0 loss to Tupapa Maraerenga – dominating Mangaia with a 5-0 win.

After a successful inaugural competition – bringing nations together to play and enjoy youth football – the Cook Islands Football Association is looking forward to continuing the Kia Orana Youth Football Festival next year and in years to come.

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