2016 Cook Islands Premier men’s Round Cup title holders Puaikura FC now know the challenges ahead of them as they prepare for the OFC Champions League Qualifier kicking off in Tonga on 28 January.
While the main objective is to be the first Cook Islands’ team to qualify through the preliminary round, assistant coach Anthony Samuela is aware of the difficult tasks facing his squad going into the tournament.
“Playing against different opposition in a different country will be just some of the challenges”, Samuela said.
“The tournament itself and the quick turnaround from game to game will also be another challenge for us.”
But the side is remaining positive and is optimistic they will perform well in Tonga especially with former Team Wellington and Cook Islands U-20 men’s coach Matt Calcott soon joining the team to fill in the shoes as head coach, carrying on the good work and development of Samuela.
Samuela is looking forward to working with Calcott and seeing his hardworking home-grown players develop along with the new members joining the side and to stand out in the next level of football.
“The domestic players have been working tremendously hard in all the training sessions heading into the OFC Champions League,” he said.
“We finished the season unbeaten in our domestic club competitions and we aim to do the same in the qualifier competition.”
The team is set to depart our shores for Tonga on Tuesday 24 January, 2017.
Puaikura FC will face American Samoa’s Utulei Youth FC, Samoa’s Lupe Ole Soaga and Tonga’s Veitongo FC in the round robin competition to qualify for the 2017 OFC Champions League.
- CIFA MEDIA