Avarua were crowned winners of the inaugural National Football Championship in both the men’s and women’s division after defeating Aitutaki at the CIFA Complex in Matavera last Saturday.
Avarua’s Peni Kitiona was a force to be reckoned with as he scored two unanswered goals to win the men’s title for his side, much to the delight of the supporters.
It was a much improved performance from Avarua compared to their form earlier on in the tournament. Aitutaki was assertive from the outset and constantly looked a threat while dominating large periods of play.
Kitiona scored from a close range with a powerful strike which came from a corner kick, setting off a wild celebration. Aitutaki tried hard to make a comeback, but it was not to be as time ran out.
Battling for third spot, Mauke looked set for a 2-0 win, with 10 minutes remaining, Takitumu managed to level the game, sending the match into penalty shootout to determine the winner. Takitumu prevailed to claim third.
In the women’s division, Avarua took home the title with three unanswered goals against Aitutaki in their final match for first and second place. Ngametua Taringa easily netted two spot kicks, with Holly Turner sealing the 3-0 win.Although Aitutaki showed some signs of life in the second half, time was not on their side. However, the visitors were content with second place.
Third place-getters Takitumu came to win and beat Mauke 5-1. Natalia Short, the heroine for Takitumu, scored all five goals for her side.
Top three teams were awarded cash prizes, with the winner of the men’s division presented with a trophy and $7000 cash prize by Cook Islands Football Association president Lee Harmon. The second, Aitutaki won $3000, while Takitumu received $1000.
The winner of the women’s division was presented with a trophy and cash prize of $7000 by board member Moeroa Tamangaro. Aitutaki won $3000, while third place-getters, Takitumu took home $1000.
The Cook Islands Football Association thanks all the outer island teams – Atiu, Aitutaki, Mangaia, Mauke and Mitiaro, for traveling to Rarotonga to participate in this first-ever competition. Thanks also to Avarua, Puaikura and Takitumu.
CIFA thanks The Bond Liquor Store and Air Rarotonga Ltd for assisting with the competition. The second National Football Championship will be held in 2020.