FFAS > News > OFC U-17 Championship Preliminary > American Samoa stumble at last hurdle

American Samoa stumble at last hurdle

With the defeat, American Samoa lost the chance to advance to the second stage of the competition – the OFC U-17 Championship in Vanuatu in April.
The Cook Islands secured that honour after defeating Samoa 2-1 in Saturday’s other match, played simultaneously.
A big factor working in Tonga’s favour was the loss of two players to red cards, leaving them with only nine players in the final ten minutes of the match.
“We had prepared for the eventuality of having only ten players,” explained FFAS technical director Ruben Luvu. “But with only nine players against Tonga’s 11, we were unable to hold on to our lead.”
“We didn’t get a lot of calls going our way and that was very disappointing and frustrating, but that’s just the way the ball rolls sometimes,” said coach Junior Mikaele.
American Samoa scored first with Paia Ipiniu sending a strike from distance in the first minute of the match.
Sinisa Tua scored his fourth goal of the tournament for American Samoa in the 48th minute to give them a 2-0 lead.
Tonga’s Uasi Talanoa scored in the 71st minute from a penalty after American Samoa captain Ruben Luvu Jr. was sent off.
American Samoa defender Paul Collins soon followed his captain, leaving the field in the 80th after accumulating his second yellow card of the match.
Tonga’s Hemaloto Polovili equalized in the 87th minute before Taniela Vaka’uta scored the game winner two minutes into injury time.
“We can only build and work on improving this core of players we have for future OFC tournaments,” explained FFAS CEO and team manager Tavita Taumua.
“Now they have the experience factor and they know what they have to do individually to improve in order to compete 100 per cent at higher levels of competitions.
“A big thank you from our team and association goes out to Sebrina Lodge in Lotopa for taking care of us this last week and for all of our team’s families that visited us as well,” Taumua added.
The team arrived back in the territory on Saturday, January 26.
“I am proud of them for their efforts during this tournament and want to thank everyone for their support and prayers for our team,” said FFAS president Iuli Alex Godinet.

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