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Cooks ready for regional battle

Saturday 31 December 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Soccer, Sports

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Cooks ready for regional battle
Cook Islands will compete in the OFC U17 Championship in Fiji from January 11-28, 2023. CIFA MEDIA/22123001

Cook Islands will face Vanuatu and Tahiti in their Group C fixture at the upcoming OFC Under-17 Championship in Fiji from January 11-28, 2023.

Nine teams will gather in Fiji for the tournament, from which two finalists will qualify for the FIFA U17 World Cup in Peru next year.

Oceania Football conducted the tournament draw on Friday, October 28, and the following groups were drawn.

Group A: Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, Group B: New Zealand, New Caledonia, American Samoa, Group C: Tahiti, Vanuatu, Cook Islands.

The winners and runners-up from each group and the two highest ranked third-placed teams will advance to the quarterfinals.

The upcoming tournament is the first for U17 players since 2018 because of the cancellation of the 2020 event due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The national team has been preparing for this championship for the last three months and have played a friendly match against a local side to get the team ready to face their rivals Vanuatu and Tahiti.

Before the team’s arrival in Fiji, the side is scheduled to play several friendly games in Auckland to strengthen the team.

“We know the last couple of years have been challenging for international football, especially in this age group. It is great to see it start again,” said Cook Islands coach, Tahiri Elikana.

“We have a good mix of talent and experience from both domestic and international games, and we look to capitalise on this.

“The hard work is still ongoing and if we want to succeed further, we need to discipline ourselves and play together as a team especially in our opening match against Tahiti.”

The Cook Islands team is on a bye for the opening match day on January 11, while Tahiti and Vanuatu go head-to-head. Cook Islands will then meet Tahiti on January 14, with their second match to be played against Vanuatu on January 17.

The team will leave on January 2 for Auckland, New Zealand for five days before departing for Fiji.

  • CIFA Media

National U-17 Team List: Paulo Allsworth (Nikao Sokattak FC), Ioane Brogan (Matavera-Ngatangiia FC), Terepai Karan (Aitutaki), Timi Kiriau (Avatiu FC), Dwayne Matapo (Nikao Sokattak FC), Jordan Matapo (Nikao Sokattak FC), Tione Nand (Avatiu FC), Teina Ngametua (Tupapa Maraerenga FC), Christpher Pita (Avatiu FC), Te Ariki RIngi (Matavera-Ngatangiia FC), Tepare Rongo-Kea (Nikao Sokattak FC), Juleo Tauu (Tupapa Maraerenga FC), Akai Tuakeu (Aitutaki), Stanley Tutai (Avatiu FC), Shane Tuteru (Tupapa Maraerenga FC), Jeremiah Williams (Auckland United FC), Robert Savage (Avatiu FC), Hyrum Numanga (Matavera-Ngatangiia FC), Iaveta Remuera (Nikao Sokattak FC) and Tamuera Newnham (Matavera-Ngatangiia FC). Team Officials are: Tahiri Elikana (Coach), Nathan Tisam (A.Coach), Pauline Dean (Manager), Lai Gukisuva (A.Manager) and Ana Baukitoga (Physio).