The two sides have been competitive in their previous two matches, forcing Tonga and Samoa to work hard for their victories.
Following Cook Islands’ narrow 1-0 defeat to Samoa on Tuesday, coach Alan Taylor admitted his players were devastated. Leading up to their final match, the mood in the camp is still somber, but Taylor believes his players will be in the right frame of mind come kick-off time.
“This morning was pretty quiet and took us a while to get going but now we are starting to train and make them focus on the game between now and 4.30pm tomorrow (today) and we will be ready to go,” he said.
“It’s important for the players, mainly because they have to feel what it’s like to win, so they have to get themselves ready, motivate themselves and if they can do all that and win it’s very important for their own confidence and progression after this.”
The hosts will also be determined to repay their passionate and vocal fans whose support has lifted the team’s spirit throughout the tournament.
“To the Cook Islands and the people who come and watch us play, we want to give them something to cheer about tomorrow at the end of the game,” Taylor said. Finishing the tournament with a win is also a huge motivating factor for the young American Samoa team.
Despite their underdog status, Tunoa Lui’s team played with passion and heart as well as considerable skill, showing there is plenty to be encouraged about for the future.
“We are trying to keep our team spirit and will try to play to win this time, because this is our last time,” said Lui.
“We came here to play and win a game and we are looking forward to this win,” the American Samoa coach insisted.
“It is important to our team, especially because we have a very young team and the majority of these boys will go to the U16 tournament in Tonga in July, so if we finish on a high note it will give them a good spirit to continue on that high note.”
While there will be plenty of local interest in Cook Islands’ final performance, most eyes will be glued to the top-of-the-table decider between Tonga and Samoa, which starts at 1.30pm.
A physical and fiercely contested title decider is anticipated by the coaches of both Tonga and Samoa as these two evenly matched rivals face each other in a highly anticipated showdown to determine the winner of the OFC U19 Championship Qualifier.
With a ticket to the OFC U19 Championship hosted by Tahiti later in the year on offer, the players in both camps are ready and prepared to leave nothing in the tank during the opening game of the third and final match day.
- OFC Media