Samoa are preparing for a showdown with American Samoa that could set them up nicely to secure passage to Solomon Islands, but with their neighbours keen to make history of their own it will be no easy task come kick-off at Loto-Tonga Soka Centre tomorrow.
Meanwhile Tonga will be out to get their OFC U-16 Championship Qualifier campaign back on track with a win over Cook Islands after an impressive comeback saw them snatch a point against American Samoa on the opening day. But the Cook Islanders also have something to prove with Anthony Samuela’s charges eager to find some winning form of their own.
Samoa made a strong statement with their 3-0 opening victory and coach Martin Tamasese is keen to see the momentum continue into Match Day 2.
“What we worked on during our trainings, we did everything we worked on in our first match,” Tamasese said.
“We’ve seen all three teams training and we know what we want to do, which includes a lot of pressure.
“The 18 I brought, I’m not underestimating anyone so everyone is keen to play and everyone will have the opportunity to play. Our next match we will be ready to play.”
American Samoa put in an excellent shift for the first 60-odd minutes of their opener but as the legs tired, Tonga were able to pull themselves back into the match.
It wasn’t an ideal scenario and coach Ruben Luvu expects an even tougher task against Samoa and wants his side’s performance to reflect the fighting spirit he knows they possess.
“We’ll try to avoid the cramps we had in the first game, I think the management team will have to work hard on that,” he said.
“But I think mostly we just need to keep our fighting spirit up until the last game.”
In the late kick-off the hosts Tonga will take on Cook Islands in what will be a telling match for both sides.
If Tonga can secure the full three points they’ll stay in the chase for the coveted qualification to the tournament in Solomon Islands.
But with Cook Islands chasing three points of their own, it will be difficult challenge even with the support of a vocal home crowd.
Cook Islands coach Samuela said the step up to international football was a learning curve for his players who struggled to impose their style on the match.
“It didn’t really go the way we wanted to play our game but I think we will get better for the next one,” he said.
“Hopefully the boys will learn something from the first game and do something better against Tonga. I think we need to go forward a bit more instead of playing around and losing the ball at the back.
“I think we need to attack more and go from there.”
The historic qualification of the Tonga U-19 team to the OFC U-19 Championship tournament in Tahiti next month has buoyed their younger counterparts to try and emulate that success.
Tonga’s ability to remain focussed despite going two goals down shows they have the potential, and coach Lafaele Moale wants to see them perform to that level in their second encounter.
“The kids can do it. They can win this tournament,” Moale said.
“We saw how Cook Islands played and it’s no big deal. They have players from the U-19, from New Zealand, but we can see there is no big difference from our local players.”
The second day of action at the OFC U-16 Championship Qualifier will take place on Tuesday 17 July at Loto-Tonga Soka Centre in Nuku’alofa, Tonga.
American Samoa vs. Samoa
Tuesday 17 July
Loto-Tonga Soka Centre
Referee: Ben AUKWAI (SOL)
Assistant Referee 1: Ashwin RAJ (FIJ)
Assistant Referee 2: Jeffery SOLODIA (SOL)
Fourth Official: Sione LELENGA (TGA)
American Samoa: 1. Antonio NAUER (GK), 2. Walter PATI, 3. Milo TIATIA, 4. Joseph COLLINS, 5. Matthew TAGA’I, 6. JT SETTLE, 7. Mark TAGA’I, 8. Richard TUIFAO, 9. Peter LAUVAO, 10. Ina VAIELI, 11. Gabriel TAUMUA, 12. Vaha TUA, 13. Fusi MALANI, 14. Ada SIONE, 15. William HOLLISTER, 16. Xavior LEATUALEVAO, 17. Henry NAUTU, 23. Hengihengi IKUVALU (GK)
Coach: Ruben LUVU (FIJ)
Samoa: 1. Semu FAIMATA (GK), 2. Eli SATUALA, 3. Samu GALU TAUASA, 4. Tavita TO’O, 5. Fetuao BELCHER, 6. Kawasaki SAOFAIGA, 7. Lotial MANO, 8. Bitner TAFILI, 9. Falaniko NANUMEA, 10. John TUMUA LEO, 11. Jarvis FILIMALAE, 12. Tony AMITUANAI, 14. Isaako SIONE, 15. Alex FALELUA, 16. Denny CHESHIRE, 17. Alman KWAN, 21. Steve VAINALEPA (GK)
Coach: Martin TAMASESE (SAM)
Tonga vs. Cook Islands
Tuesday 17 July
Loto-Tonga Soka Centre
Referee: Joel HOPKEN (VAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Hilmon SESE (VAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Colin LUWONG (PNG)
Fourth Official: Campbell-Kirk WAUGH (NZL)
Tonga: 1. Nimilote MOALA (GK), 2. Felise VAKA’UTA, 4. Nicolas VEA, 5. Sione AHO, 6. Tomasi MAILANGI, 7. Joseph MUAVESI, 8. William SENITULI, 9. Bishop LIKILIKI, 10. Tevita KOLOA, 11. Sione VEAMATAHAU, 12. Henry TUIONO, 13. Kulisitofa KITE, 14. Michael FOTU, 15. Fifita SOAKAI, 16. Lisiate FEKE, 17. Christopher FAUONUKU, 18. Christopher KEFU, 19. Manamoui HALAHINGANO, 20. Viliami LUI (GK)
Coach: Lafaele MOALA (TGA)
Cook Islands: 1. Siana SHORT (GK), 2. Luke AREAI, 3. Temaruata TEARAITOA, 4. Tumatangi TUMATANGI, 5. Tereapii MATAMAKI, 6. Teariki PUMATI, 7. Okirua ELIU, 8. Ivan SMITH, 9. John KARIKA, 10. Brayden KAMANA, 11. Toru MATEARIKI, 12. Koizumi HENRY, 14. Tamatoa NICHOLAS, 15. Kapi PURI, 16. Silas TREGO, 17. Logan LEAITY, 18. Tepa TUAPUTA, 20. Jireh VUNIBAKA (GK)
Coach: Anthony SAMUELA (COK)