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Cooks take up challenge in Vanuatu

The tournament will be held on the island of Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu, from April 17 to 25 and will involve the hosts Vanuatu, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Cook Islands, who will all be battling it out for the one place on offer at UAE 2013.
All six teams will compete for Oceania’s sole qualification spot at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, set to be held in the United Arab Emirates from October 17 to November 8 this year.
Cook Islands qualified for this main event after emerging triumphant over American Samoa, Samoa and Tonga in the preliminary tournament, held in Apia, Samoa, from January 22 to 26 earlier this year.
Coach Tuka Tisam is contemplating on the strategies best suited for his side if they are to make an impression at the OFC U-17 competition.
“We have accomplished our first hurdle while in Samoa, now we have to play the big boys and I believe our team will play to the best of their ability,” says Tisam.
“All teams at the final stage are ranked higher than us. Realistically it will be difficult to win a match however we will try,” he says.
“The competition will be tough knowing that the winner will represent the Oceania region at the FIFA U-17 World Cup tournament.”
The Cook Islands will play their first game against powerhouse and hot favorites New Zealand and followed by Papua New Guinea at the tournament.
The teams will play each other once in a round robin tournament based on a league system and all matches will be staged at the recently-redeveloped Chapuis Stadium in Luganville, which last hosted an international tournament in 1998 in the form of the Melanesia Cup.
The Cook Islands U-17 Men’s Football Team to Vanuatu consist of Keegan Inia (New Zealand), Ford Henry (Avatiu), Jarves Aperau (Arorangi), Kimiora Samuela (Arorangi), Sunai Joseph (Tupapa), Pekay Edwards (Atiu), Takuina Tararo (Mauke), Terei George (Aitutaki), Wiremu Temata (Titikaveka), Dwayne Tiputoa (Arorangi), Cahjun Willis (Nikao Sokattak), Maro Bonsu-Maro (New Zealand), Thane Beal (Australia), Te-Ava Wichman (Arorangi), Morgan Wichman (Nikao Sokattak), Samuel Maoate-Cox (New Zealand) and Antonio Tuaiti (Aitutaki).
The team is coached by Tuka Tisam and assisted by Donald Munro, managed by Junior Areai assisted by Billy Tiro and team Physio is Pare Tangata.
New Zealand’s Young All Whites are the defending champions of Oceania at U-17 level after earning the title as hosts in 2011 and going on to compete at that year’s FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico. They performed well on the global stage, making the Round of 16 thanks largely to a memorable 4-1 win over Uzbekistan before being knocked out by Japan.

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