Tupapa Marerenga secured a clean sweep of the OFC Champions League Qualifier 2018 with a 5-0 win over Pago Youth in American Samoa on the final day o the tournament on Friday.
By winning all three games the Cook Islands side have earned themselves a spot in Group A of the OFC Champions League group stage, which will be played in Vanuatu.
Tupapa Maraerenga dominated from the start and after a few early chances Maro Bonsu-Maro opened the scoring in just the seventh minute. A through ball unlocked the Pago defence and Tyrell Barringer-Tahiri squared the ball to present Bonsu-Maro with an open goal. It wasn’t long before Tupapa doubled their lead with a powrful finish in the 12th minute.
Heavy rain took its toll on the pitch for the latter part of the first half and both teams struggled to adjust, but Tupapa went into the break leading 2-0
Pago Youth pushed forward at the start of the second half, but could not break through. And on the 59th minute Tupapa made it three when Bonsu-Maro latched onto a ball from Hone Fowler and notched his brace with a fine finish from a tight angle. Geoffery Strickland and Sean Latimer added some gloss to the scoreline as Tupapa ran out 5-0 winners.
The Cook Islands Champions will now head to Vanuatu where they will face Toti City Dwellers from Papua New Guinea, local side Nalkutan and Fijian outfit Ba in two weeks time.
Coach Alexander Napa said he expects it to be tough going for the team.
“There will be higher level opponents so we’ll need a totally different game plan,’ he said.
“We’re going to have to look at probably a more defensive type of game because the teams we’re going to be facing won’t let you have too muh time on the ball”.
“This is the first time for our club and we’re going to have to really look at our defensive work and drill the movements really well. “I’d also like to just say congratulations to the teams who we’ve faced in this tournament for making it here, it’s been a good memory to have going into the near future”.
In the other match Lupe Ole Soaga of Samoa booked their place in the group stage as they put six unanswered goals past Veitonga from Tonga.
After their success the Tupapa Maraerenga team have arrived back home and have only a few days to prepare before leaving for the second stage of the Tournament in Port Villa, Vanuatu next week on Monday.