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Massive support for Cooks in Samoa

The large Cook Islands contingent, just back from the motherland, Pukapuka for the festive period and were heading back to Brisbane, Australia via Samoa and made it in time for the final day of OFC U-17 Championship where Cook Islands were set to meet Samoa.
Cook Islands needed to win their last match against Samoa with the hope of American Samoa taking a draw against Tonga. And that remained the case in the dying minutes of both matches – played at the same time due to the fact that the three teams Samoa, American Samoa and Cook Islands had the chance of progressing to the next stage depending on the result of the last match.
Samoa scored in the first half in the 23rd minute from a corner kick and the ball was deflected into the goal with a header by Sue Pelesa. Both sides attacked but no further goals were scored and the half time score remained at 1-0 in favour of Samoa.
In the second spell Cook Islands equalized through a beautiful header by Maukean Takuina Tararo. Both sides attacked at their opponents in search of the winning goal with six minutes remaining on the clock.
15 year old Dwyane Tipoutoa dribbled past the Samoan defenders and placed the ball past the goal keeper to lead the match by two goals to one. The Cook Islands held onto this lead until the final whistle.
The Cook Islands bench erupted into a frenzy with the ever vocal supporters of over two hundred Pukapukans however unaware of the results from the American Samoa versus Tonga match. Minutes following the final whistle the Cook Islands team were informed of the result, where Tonga defeated American Samoa in injury time, 3-2.
The players and management along with their supporters had more to celebrate learning they had progressed through to the next stage of the qualifying process.
The results means Cook Islands have qualified for the OFC U-17 Championship, which is set to take place in Vanuatu from April 17-27, where they will come up against fellow Oceania nations Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tahiti and Vanuatu. The winner will go on to represent the region at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013.
Cook Islands coach Tuka Tisam was elated about his team’s efforts. “We’re really delighted, the boys fought really hard. I have so many emotions going through my head at the moment, it’s really crazy,” he said.
“I wasn’t too worried about the other match, we were just focusing on getting the win we needed. It’s a great moment for the boys and for the Cook Islands.”
The outcome of the other match meant that a draw would have been enough for Samoa to take the title but they were to be denied through Dwayne Tiputoa’s late effort.
In the individual awards, Cook Islands custodian Keegan Inia earned the golden gloves as the best goalkeeper on show.