American Samoa will be looking to get back on track on Match Day 2 of the OFC U19 Championship qualifiers 2018 on May 29, 2018 in the Cook Islands.
They take on Tonga on the heels of a 3-0 loss against Samoa during the tournament’s kick off day on May 26. Tonga is coming off of a 3-0 win over hosts Cook Islands, and is in the driver’s seat with Samoa for the No. 1 spot in the qualifiers.
The game kicks off at 1:30 Cook Islands time (12:30 in American Samoa).
“We may have a few changes in our lineup against Tonga due to an injury to one of our starters,” said the team’s coach, Tunoa Lui. “One of our defenders, Milo Tiatia, may not play after getting injured against Samoa. It is not a major injury, he is still able to run, but on the advice of our physio (Luaao Wasko), we’ve decided to sit him out in this game.”
He said there are a few players he can draw from to replace Tiatia, and is confident that they can step in and perform well.
“These last two days we have been on recovery mode for our players after a very intense match against Samoa, and we expect Tonga to come out just as hard against us,” Lui said. “Confidence is running high with the Tongans after their win, and they will look to score early against us as they did against the Cook Islands.”
Lui said the players’ are not down after the loss against Samoa, as the management team lifted their spirits up with the way they played in the first game.
“We told them that we were proud of the way they played, and that it was only our fitness that let us down in the last 13 minutes of the game,” Lui recalled. “However, it doesn’t mean they didn’t make mistakes, we went through game footage last night and pointed out what they could have done, and should have done to avoid how the game ended.”
He said Tonga’s team has a lot of height in the back, and did a very good job locking up the midfield. He said Tonga was able to create great links between their midfielders and their forwards, and that it will be a very tough game for American Samoa.
“We believe our players can meet the challenge, and we will give them a game plan to execute against Tonga,” he pointed out.
The team will be led again by their captain, and inspirational leader through his actions out on the field, Gabriel Taumua. Other experienced players supporting him for this upcoming game will be Chris Faamoana, Walter Pati, Roy Ledoux and goalie MJ Faoa-Danielson.
Lui has not named his starting 11 yet and will do so before the end of the day to get the players mentally prepared as starters, and those on the bench as well.