The Cook Islands under-19 men’s team has vowed to bounce back after losing in their opener against Tonga but the side faces a tough task against Samoa today at 4.30pm at the CIFA Complex.
Cook Islands head coach Alan Taylor conceded that the national side did not have an ideal start to the OFC U19 Championship Qualifier on Saturday, but believes there are some positive takeaways heading into today’s match.
Taylor said he was happy with the team’s overall effort, but added that they still have some work to do.
“I think the occasion gets to them, but we just have to go and play the way we practise. The defense needs to be a bit tighter but I’m happy with the attitude,” Taylor said.
The Cook Islands coach knows his team must beat Samoa to keep their qualification hopes alive.
“Samoa, they won their first game, and we have to win both of our remaining games, so it’s all on. It’s the second game and if you don’t win your second game it’s all over.”
Apart from dousing Cook Islands hopes, a win for Samoa would also put Valerio Raccuglia’s men on the verge of qualification.
However, there is a lot of hard work ahead for the Samoans to achieve their goal, according to the coach.
Far from happy despite his side’s 3-0 win over American Samoa, Raccuglia demanded more dedication and commitment from his players.
“We have to work on the heads of our players – there are too many people who don’t understand what we are doing,” he lamented.
“It came as a surprise to me at halftime in our opening match, because we have done things over and over again.
“I don’t know if they don’t understand or they don’t want to work, because we are here now, so we will see.”
Following their impressive 3-0 win over Cook Islands, Tonga will fancy their chances against American Samoa when the two sides kick off the day’s proceedings at 1.30pm.
Neither Cook Islands nor American Samoa can afford another slip up, while Samoa and Tonga will be looking to extend their advantage when the action resumes this afternoon for match day two at the 2018 OFC U19 Championship Qualifier.
– OFC/CIFA MEDIA