FFAS > News > OFC MEN'S U-17 PRELIMINARY 2016 > Cook Islands 3, American Samoa 1

Cook Islands 3, American Samoa 1

“It is a disappointing loss for us because this is a game I believe we could have won,” said coach Frederick Maiava. “Cook Islands took advantage of the mistakes we made and scored. We didn’t do our part in protecting our goal especially with that first score.”
Goalkeeper Johnjohn Ugaitafa on a goal kick error gave it straight to Conroy Tiputoa and he capitalized on the mistake with a score on a one v. one situation in the 21st minute. Five minutes later Tiputoa scored his second to give the Cook Islands a 2-0 lead.
In the 30th minute Takai Pouli saw his strike deflect twice before going into the back of the net for American Samoa’s first goal of the game, and also first of the tournament.
“I saw the ball come clear and I just said that it as mine and went for it,” he recalled.
All throughout the first half American Samoa kept attacking and attacking but poor finishes or lack of power in their shots had them playing from behind non-stop.
“Takai and Jospeh (Purcell) played great games today, as well as our defenders Gabriel (Taumua), Mahonri (Lotolelei) and Walter (Pati),” Maiava said. “Our other players tried their best and were a little slow at times in getting to the ball and that’s something we are going to have to work on in preparation for our last game against Tonga.”
In the second half American Samoa kept up the pressure but time and time again they could not get one into the back of the net. Some of their shots were off and the Cook Islands’ defenders and goalkeeper were able to keep their opponents away with timely tackles.
That pressure by American Samoa turned into a golden nugget for the Cook Islands as a quick counterattack produced the game’s final goal during stoppage time.
“Our boys fought hard and the score does not do justice to how close the game was and how tough we made it,” said the team’s Technical Adviser, Rupeni Luvu. “We’re going to discuss what went right and what went wrong and go on from there.”
Maiava and the coaching staff made two changes to their lineup against the Cook Islands and also switched players around in the hopes of trying to get more possession of the ball.
They brought in Chris Fa’amoana and Masila Siua on the wings while moving Purcell and Pouli into the center midfield positions. Taumua, the captain, was moved to the back to help out with the defenders and this move brought more cohesion and better movement among the back four.
“It worked out that Gabriel was able to control our three other defenders and they played a much better game than they did against Samoa,” Luvu pointed out. “Up on the midfield Takai and Joseph played very well in making runs of their own and also trying to feed our two big boys up front, Steven (Fiso) and Eliott (Lelei).”
He said Cook Islands’ defenders did a good job in containing their strikers, making it hard for them to score during the many times they went on the attack.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to get them going in our final game against Tonga,” Maiava said.
“I am very thankful that none of the boys got hurt during the game and I just want to let their parents and our association know that everybody is healthy,” explained team manager Tavita Taumua. “We’ve got one more game to go and we want to thank you all for your prayers and support of our team while we are here competing in this tournament.”
American Samoa takes on Tonga at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, July 8, 2016 at the Toleafoa JS Blatter Football Complex in Tuanaimato, Samoa before flying back home the next day.

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