American Samoa will be taking on their brothers from across the ocean, Samoa, in their first game of the OFC Men’s U19 Championship 2018 on Saturday, May 26, 2018 in Cook Islands.
The American Samoa vs. Samoa game kicks off at 1:30 pm Cook Islands time (12:30 in American Samoa), and the game will be streamed live on www.oceaniafootball.com. Updates from the game can also be found on the FFAS Facebook page, Football Federation American Samoa.
The squad of 18 players and five officials have been in country going on four days, and have been whiling away the time with training and team activities at the hotel’s game room, or sightseeing in town.
“The weather here is a bit cooler than back home, but it’s not a big difference to make it a factor in our competing in this tournament,” said head coach Tunoa Lui. “I think experience and technical abilities will be big factors for this tournament.”
The Cook Islands were winners of this age group two years ago when Tonga hosted, with only three returning from the American Samoa team of 2016 for this competition – Gabriel Taumua, Junior Choi and Michael Settle.
The starting 11 and team captain have yet to be named, but room leaders have been assigned to assist the team management. Overall, seven of the 18 players – Kuresa Taga’i, Mark Taga’i, Matthew Taga’i, Kato Lasalo, Joseph Collins, New Year Villar, and Tuaki Latu are competing in their first OFC youth tournament. Two of the 11 experienced ones will be playing in their first 11-a-side international game come Saturday, as they – Darryl Ulufale and Manu Faoa-Danielson – competed in the OFC U18 Futsal tournament in New Zealand last year.
The other nine players are Taumua, Choi, Settle, Roy Ledoux, Christopher Faamoana, Walter Pati, Milo Tiatia, Misipele Musu and Vaha Tua. The other two officials are assistant coach Talalelei Faalavaau and media officer Brian Vitolio.
“The hotel (Edgewater Resort and Spa) we’re staying at is great, they have worked to accommodate us since day one, and the meals have been perfect,” said team manager Tavita Taumua. “They told us before they came that they are used to having sports teams stay here, and with that have a specific menu for such teams. That menu has been great, making it less of a worry for us to have to pre-select the meals or make the menu ourselves.”
He added that the players are doing well, no one is sick or homesick, and they are in good hands with team physio, Luaao Wasko, a Registered Nurse with LBJ Tropical Medical Hospital.
“We thank you all for your prayers and support, and we are confident in our boys’ ability for their upcoming game,” said team manager Taumua.