The Anthony Samuela-coached side went down 3-0 at the Loto-Tonga Soka Centre.
Both sides opened the tournament on Friday (CI time) determined to stick to their formations and game plans.
This approach laid the groundwork for an even opening half, with possession won and lost by both sides. However, the Samoan defence proved tough to break down.
The Cook Islands front line were forced to drop deep into midfield to win possession, with Brayden Kamana doing a fantastic job. But when it came to switching on a collective offence, the side struggled to get a decent shot on target.
Samoa, on the other hand, were hugely effective with their game plan, heaping the pressure on a Cook Islands defence led by captain Tumatangi Tumatangi, another of the tournament’s U-19 internationals.
Cook Islands withstood the pressure as long as they could, but were unable to keep pace with the swift, strong passing of their opponents. Samoa eventually broke down the walls in the 37th minute when Jarvis Filimalae beat past his marker to fire home from a tight angle and open the scoring.
Fetuao Belcher then made it 2-0 before the break when managed to finish a set piece that had bounded around in the six-yard box and off the woodwork before he finally got the sweet touch it needed to cross the line.
Although Cook Islands never gave up, they continued to be dominated by Samoa in the second half with a third and final goal coming in the 75th minute.
Filimalae latched onto an excellent pass before dribbling towards goal and firied a low, hard shot past a diving Jireh Vunibaka.
Cook Islands coach Anthony Samuela was a little downbeat after the final whistle but believes the game only leaves room for improvement from his side.
“I want to thank the Samoa team firstly for their effort. It didn’t go our way, but I think the boys should learn something from there and get better for the next game,” Samuela said.
“We were really just looking at the way we play, some things didn’t go our way and Samoa were on top of us, but I think we’ll get better, definitely.”
Samoa coach Martin Tamasese was happy to start the competition on a positive note.
“I’m really happy with the boys today. We prepared really well and had a Plan A and a Plan B. We planned to put pressure and counter today,” he said.
“I saw everything we’ve been working on in training in action.”
Cook Islands will play Tonga and American Samoa in the remaining matches.- OFC Media