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
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
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
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,
“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.