Level playing field in friendlies

Cook Islands take a free kick in their 2-0 victory over Tahiti last Saturday.

The Tahiti U-16 women’s team traveled to Matavera last week to face the Cook Islands U-16 women’s team in two friendly matches – resulting in two very different scores – in preparation for the 2017 OFC U-16 Women’s Championship in August.

The hosts dominated their Francophone visitors 2-0 in their first match on Saturday, but a reignited Tahitian team turned the tables when the sides met again on Wednesday, defeating Cook Islands 4-1.

Saturday’s match was no easy feat for the young Cook Islands team, with a talented Tahiti midfield controlling possession and creating several opportunities throughout the first half, but a strong defending from Cook Islands and errors up front left Tahiti scoreless.

Cook Islands capitalised on a strong build-up of play half-way through the first half, and although Tahiti lifted in the second half, a breakaway goal earned the hosts a comfortable 2-0 lead.

Tahiti battled hard to catch their opponents but the Cook Islands backline worked hard and kept the eager Tahitians out of goal until the final whistle.

The Tahitian’s determination carried over to Tuesday’s match, but this time the side was able to profit from their opportunities through the middle of the park.

Slow to start, Cook Islands were caught off-guard by their visitors and conceded three goals before the half time whistle.

Cook Islands lifted for the second half and fired back at the Tahitians to get on the sheet but Tahiti quickly countered to hold on to their three-goal winning margin until the end of the game.

With two contrasting results under their belts, both teams will be feeling confident but humbled as they continue their preparations for August.

Drawn in different groups for the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship, a tie-breaker between the two nations will depend on their success in the group stage of the competition and whether they both progress on to semi-finals.

The 2017 OFC U-16 Women’s Championship will run from 4-25 August in Apia Samoa.

Tahiti will join New Zealand, Samoa, New Caledonia and Vanuatu and Tonga in Group A.

Cook Islands has been drawn in Group B with Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, American Samoa and Fiji.

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