The Tupapa Maraerenga premier men’s team have won their first match of the group stage in the Oceania Champions League Qualifiers, stunning Samoa’s champion football club Lue Ole Soaga 1-0 on Saturday.
Tupapa Maraerenga fought hard in Pago Pago and claimed victory thanks to second-half penalty from Sean Latimer. The result leaves them top of the four-team table after the other match between the champions of Tonga and American Samoa ended in a draw.
Tupapa Maraerenga and Lupe Ole Soaga both looked solid at the back with few chances created in a tightly contested first half. The only shot on tartet in the first period came on the half hour mark when Hone Fowler’s free kick was tapped into the back of the net by Grover Harmon but the assistant referee signaled the ball had gone out of play.
A lively second half followed with Tupapa Maraerenga dominating the match and they deservedly broke the deadlock in the 75th minute. Sean Latimer slammed a spot kick into the back of the net after a foul on Pachok Abba in the box to put Tupapa Marerenga in the driving seat with a 1-0 lead.
The Cook Islands side stood firm to maintain their lead and get their tournament off to a great start in American Samoa.
After the match coach Alex Napa spoke higly of his team’s display.
“I think my team performed relatively well. I mean, there is room for improvement, and playing against another team will give us that opportunity to take a closer look at ourselves under pressure,” Napa Said.
“A win was our goal and when we came here, regardless of whether it is one goal or more than one, but a win is really a good start for us.
“I think both teams playued extremely well, and tried to make the most of their chances, we got lucky and sometimes we need toluck to be able to do this,” Napa said
Tonga’s champion Veitonga and host club Pago Youth battled to a hard fought 1-1 draw in the second and final match of the day.
Tupapa Maraerenga will play its second match of the Oceania League Qualifiers against the champions of Tonga Veitonga at 1pm local time whilst Lupe Ole Soaga will want to get back to winning ways when they go up against host Pago Youth at the Pago Partk Soccer Stadium tomorrow