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New Zealand and Tahiti look to seal their spots in final four

Group B rivals New Zealand and Tahiti are both set to confirm their spot in the semis (Phototek)

With two semifinal places up for grabs from Group B, defending champions and favourites New Zealand and tournament debutants Tahiti are both virtually guaranteed to join New Caledonia and Vanuatu in the last four of the OFC U-19 Championship in Rarotonga.

Group leaders New Zealand have already amassed a staggering 35 goals without conceding in their previous two victories against Samoa and Tahiti, and they are expected to continue their dominant ways when they face American Samoa on Match Day 6 of the competition.

Meanwhile the Tahitians who scored seven unanswered goals against American Samoa before losing 5-nil to the Kiwis are also overwhelming favourites to secure the points they need to qualify as group runners-up, when they face a winless Samoa side in Friday’s opening match at Cook Islands’ CIFA Academy.

Samoa had a tough tournament to date including a demoralising defeat to the ruthless Kiwis before  a 4-2 loss to their Pacific cousins American Samoa.

Nevertheless, Lanuola Mulipola’s players can take plenty of hearts from the way picked themselves up, stayed together and focused between those two matches.

Despite losing both matches, Samoa’s second outing was a much improved performance, displaying plenty of character and fighting spirit that should provide them with encouragement and confidence ahead of their meeting with Tahiti.

“I’m sure they can do it, I’m sure,” insisted the Mulipoa.

“I’m not saying that they’re better than anyone, but with the hard work and preparations behind them they can do it,” the Samoa coach insisted.

Despite cautiously optimistic, Tahiti coach Stéphanie Spielmann is adamant her players need  to keep their feet firmly on the ground and she warned against reading too much into Samoa’s first match against New Zealand.

“We have looked at the games of Samoa and they are a strong team,” she insisted.

“The defeat to New Zealand was the first game they played, that’s always very difficult and anything can happen, we’ve had games like that. We need to stay really focused,” the Tahiti coach insisted.

Spielmann also sees the match as an opportunity for her side to showcase the style and football philosophy they are trying to implement in Tahiti.

“We want to play football well, we want to show everybody that in Tahiti we work hard and we can play attractive football,” added the coach.

Meanwhile, American Samoa are still on a high following their famous victory over their close rivals Samoa which meant so much for the players, coaching staff as well as for all their supporters back home.

And coach Stephen Settle is relishing another opportunity for her players to test themselves against the might of New Zealand to conclude the group stages.

Settle is under no illusion about the monumental task ahead of her players, but he insists the match will provide them with a valuable lessons and experience.

“We’re excited,” he enthused.

“When you play any type of sport, you want to measure yourself against the best and in Oceania on the women’s side that’s New Zealand.

“So we are excited for the opportunity to play against them and measure ourselves against the best and we’re going to train and work hard for that moment,” the American Samoa coach said.

Despite one eye already on the semifinals, Oceania giants New Zealand are still expected to carry on with their professional and clinical approach to seal their progression to the knock- out stage with another convincing display.

Their final match against Samoa will also provide coach Gemma Lewis with a chance to cast her eyes over the wider squad.

“It’s another opportunity to see players, another opportunity to build on our playing style and to try out other areas that we are trying to focus on. And there will be more players that we will look to try and get into the line-up as well,” explained the New Zealand coach.

Samoa vs Tahiti
Friday 6 September (Saturday 7 September NZ time)
CIFA Academy
Rarotonga, Cook Islands
KO: 13:00

Click here for the live stream


Match Officials:
Referee: Fina ANGELO (VAN)
Assistant Referee 1:John PAREANGA (COK)
Assistant Referee 2:Lata KAUMATULE (TGA)
Fourth Official: Timothy NIU (SOL)

SAMOA  – 1. ASOFA SALELE, 2. Michayla CHAMBERLAIN, 3. Paepae TUITAMA, 4. Vineta FALEAANA, 5. Afioga FAALOGOASO, 6. Lefiufinau SALU FINAU, 7. Pisila IONATANA 8. Mole SAOFAIGA, 9. Angela VON HEIDERBRANDT, 10. Madeleen AH KI, 11. Mata TALIU, 12. Tiare TUIMAVAVE, 13. Zoe RUBY, 14. Talaisea MULITALO, 15. Helina PAULO, 16. Lusia SCHUSTER, 17. Fofoga SAMUELU, 18. Dawn FETALAIGA, 20. Nefu WONG, 23. Alana TUALAULELEI (GK)
Head Coach: Lanuola MULIPOLA (Samoa)

TAHITI – 1. Corail HARRY (GK), 2. Temenava FOURNIER, 4. Babou TEPEA, 5. Julienne NAOMI, 6. Lokelani HAUATA, 7. Kohai MA, 8. Merehau IOTUA, 9. Tetia MOSE, 10. Tiare TEKAKIOTERAGI, 11. Tahia TAMARII, 12. Vahuariki TUFAUNUI, 13. Ahuura CHIN, 14. Hana KIMITETE, 15. Mihitua TIHONI, 17. Kiani WONG, Christiane TETAVAHI, 19. Mitiura PAINT-KOUI,  20. Hereura CHU (GK)

Head Coach: Stéphanie SPIELMANN (Tahiti)

American Samoa vs. New Zealand
Friday 6 September (Saturday 7 September NZ time)
CIFA Academy
Rarotonga, Cook Islands
KO: 16:00

Click here for the live stream


Match Officials
Referee: Tapaita LELENGA (TGA)
Assistant Referee: Illisapeti MALEKAMU (TGA)
Assistant Referee 2: Natalia LUMUKANA (SOL)
Fourth Official: Torika DELAI (FIJ)

AMERICAN SAMOA – 1. Malia IOLAMA (GK), 2. Olivia VAIOMOUNGA, 3. Susanna LUTALI, 4. Veronica IUPATI, 5. Tatiana JACKSON, 6. Aileen IEREMIA, 7. Aggie PATI, 8. Precious IEREMIA, 9. Elcy LUI, 10. Eseta ENESI, 11. Agnes SIAOSI, 12. Ama FALEAO, 13. Oloa TOFAEONO, 14. Eliza BERONDO, 15. Shaloriana TAUAEFA, 16. Precious FAAMOANA, 17. Grace MALAEFONO, 23. Destiny KAPISI (GK)
Head Coach: Steve Settle (USA)

NEW ZEALAND – 1. Nadia OLLA (GK), 2. Mackenzie BARRY, 3. Hannah MACKAY-WRIGHT, 4. Aneka MITTENDORFF, 5. Marisa VAN DER MEER, 6. Rose MORTON, 7. Gabi RENNIE, 8. Amelia Anne ABBOTT, 9. Maggie JENKINS, 10. Grace WISNEWSKI, 11. Kelli BROWN, 12. Alisha PERRY(GK), 13. Charlotte WILFORD CARROLL, 14. Arabella MAYNARD, 15. Dani WARD, 16. Lara WALL, 17. Tahlia HERMAN-WATT, 18. Rene WASI, 19. Ava COLLINS
Head Coach: Gemma LEWIS (Wales)



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