Cook Islands U17 head to Samoa

For the past three months football players from around Rarotonga, Mangaia, Atiu and Mauke have been hard at work with intense training in preparation for the OFC U-17 Championship Preliminaries.
The Cook Islands side will face American Samoa, Tonga and host Samoa while at the championship. The championship will seek the winner who will then proceed to face heavyweights New Zealand, Solomon Islands and Tahiti to name a few.
Taking charge of this versatile but young side is former national player and former Mt Albert Grammer student Geongsa Tisam but known to everyone as Tuka and is assisted by former Auckland Grammer student Paul Luiz Van Eijk.
Coach Tisam is eager for his side to progress through to the second stage of the OFC U-17 Championship which is set to take place in Vanuatu in April this year.
“It is our aim to see that we progress through to the second stage of the OFC U-17 Championship,” says Tisam. “But for now we will concentrate on this tournament.”
One week prior to departure the team were joined by overseas players from New Zealand and Australia where they spent a week together in a camp training and working out the kinks of each player to better suit the team.
“We will need to bring our ‘A’ game once we land in Samoa, the weather conditions will no doubt play a part during the tournament and we will work hard to keep our players focused,” says Tisam.
The Cook Islands U-17 team to Samoa consist of Keegan Inia (New Zealand), Ford Henry (Avatiu), Jarves Aperau (Arorangi), Kimiora Samuela (Arorangi), Louison Atetu (Mangaia), 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), Torea Tangata (Australia), Thane Beal (Australia), Te-Ava Wichman (Arorangi), Morgan Wichman (Nikao Sokattak) and Antonio Tuaiti (Aitutaki).
The team is coached by Tuka Tisam and assisted by Paul Luiz Van Eijk, managed by Junior Areai and assisted by Moeroa Tamangaro and team physio is Pare Tangata.
Prior to the team’s departure, the U-17 squad with their management team were hosted to a lucheon with CIFA President Lee Harmon and Vice President Jake Numanga at the Tamarind House on Wednesday afternoon.
The team is scheduled to depart for Samoa via New Zealand, Friday morning, three days before the kick off of the championship.

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