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Cook Islands face Solomon Islands, Tahiti and Vanuatu in Football World Cup qualifiers

Wednesday 2 March 2022 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Soccer, Sports


Cook Islands face Solomon Islands, Tahiti and Vanuatu in Football World Cup qualifiers
Coach Alan Taylor (left) with Rarotonga based players that are heading for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Oceania Qualifiers. 22030106

Cook Islands National Men’s football team is selected for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Oceania Qualifiers after Tonga withdrew from a deciding match.

The Cook Islands was scheduled to play Tonga on March 13 to decide which team would go to the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

However, the volcanic eruption and tsunami that struck Tonga last month left the country withdrawing from the match. The Cook Islands were then given automatic entry to the World Cup Oceania Qualifiers.

A media release from Cook Islands Football Association (CIFA) said the team would be put in Group A joining the Solomon Islands, Tahiti and Vanuatu - all teams ranked higher than the Cook Islands.

Cook Islands will face the Solomon Islands in the first match on March 17, followed by Tahiti on March 19 and the last match is against Vanuatu on March 24.

All matches will be played at the Grand Hamad Stadium in Doha, Qatar.

Eight Rarotonga based footballers, along with other selected squad members based in New Zealand, Australia and London, have been in training since late December last year in preparation for the qualifiers.

Locally-based squad members have been training under the helm of Coach Alan Taylor.

Taylor said: “Due to players being so spread out and Covid restrictions, we have not been able to train or play as a squad, nor have I been able to visit any of the overseas-based players to watch them play or train as well as assess their physical condition or readiness for the competition in Qatar”.

The team will most likely be dubbed as underdogs in its group said the release.

However, Taylor said he is confident the team will be focused and prepared for each challenge.

There will be no excuses when going over, he said.

“We will play with pride and passion and never stop trying.”

The locally-based players are currently training three to four evenings per week and had practice games in preparation.

The team is scheduled to depart the Cook Islands on Saturday and will meet the rest of the team in Doha.