American Samoa is set to play in their first game of the OFC U16 Championship Qualifiers 2018 against hosts, Tonga.
“I believe going into this game, Tonga has the advantage because they are playing on their home turf,” said the team’s coach, Rupeni Luvu. “I don’t know what kind of players they have because I haven’t seen them in action, but they have that on their side, the home crowd.”
Tonga’s U19 team triumphed in the Cook Islands last month, and that is another advantage Luvu said goes to the hosts.
“I know they will be full of confidence after their U19 team won in the Cook Islands,” Luvu pointed out. “Playing with confidence from that on their minds will give their team a boost against us.”
He went on to say that for his team, the key is to play as a team and remember to play how they have been practicing.
“We are going to stick to what we practiced, and stick to our game plan,” he added. “We want to have a balanced attack. We need more numbers in attack and we need more numbers in defense. We will adjust our plan accordingly after the first 10 minutes, see if they are strong in attack, then we’ll make changes as the game progresses.”
Two years ago during the 2016’s version of this tournament in Samoa, Tonga beat American Samoa 2-0. That is fresh on the minds of this team as a few of the players, and coaches, have returned for this squad.
Some of those players include Gabriel Taumua, Walter Pati and Milo Tiatia, veterans of this current campaign as all three played in that tournament. They are some of the players Luvu will be relying on heavily against Tonga.
“We are looking forward to our first game, and we need the boys to follow what we have been practicing and play their best,” Luvu said. “To the parents, the players are all well and I want to thank our management for taking care of our boys.”
American Samoa takes on Tonga at 2 PM on Saturday, July 14 (Tongan time) at the Loto-Tonga Soka Center in Veitongo. The game will be live streamed by OFC-TV, and the link can be found on the website, www.oceaniafootball.com