The Puaikura women’s team after winning the Round Cup and Knockout Cup final. CIFA Media/20121306
Tupapa Maraerenga FC will represent the Cook Islands at the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Champions League qualifiers next year.
Tupapa Maraerenga qualified for the OFC Champions League
qualifiers after retaining the Vans Premiership title this month.
However, the tournament has not been finalised by the
regional body due to Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Pauline Dean, Cook Islands Football
Association’s competition and club licensing manager, they are looking forward
to sending national teams to a number of regional events in 2021 but are
waiting for the final dates.
“We are looking at sending teams internationally to compete
at the various OFC competitions; OFC U19 Men’s Championship - Fiji, OFC U17
Men’s Championship – Samoa, OFC U17 Women’s Championship – Tahiti, OFC Nations
Cup – New Zealand, FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, Qatar 2022 – New Zealand, however
we are waiting for the confirmation from OFC due to the impact Covid has in NZ
(quarantine) and some of the Oceania countries, i.e. the travel restrictions
etc.” Dean said.
“The biggest one for us will be the World Cup Qualifiers for
the FIFA World Cup, Qatar 2022 that OFC is yet to confirm, i.e. competition
dates and venue.”
The pandemic had affected the national teams’ participation
in a number of tournaments this year.
Dean said: “Internationally, there was an impact of Covid-19
with CIFA to host the Nations Cup Qualifiers where Tonga, Samoa and American
Samoa was to travel to the Cook Islands to play our national side.”
“Further to that, we were looking to participate in the
various OFC tournaments (OFC U19 Men’s Championship - Fiji, OFC U17 Men’s
Championship – Samoa, OFC U17 Women’s Championship – Tahiti, OFC Nations Cup –
New Zealand, FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, Qatar 2022 – New Zealand) however, due
to Covid-19 and the countries in Oceania with restrictions not only on travel
but in country restrictions as well (we were unable to participate).”
However, the Covid-19 pandemic had little to no effect on
the local competition.
Dean said the 2020 season went really well and all Rarotonga
clubs were involved.
“Locally, there was an impact on the clubs who were unable
to commence training in preparation for the season earlier in the year due to
“Once the restrictions were lifted, clubs only had a month
to prepare for the season when we got the all clear to commence the football
season as the restrictions were lifted.”
Dean said the domestic competition went on a two week break
for the Cook Islands Games.
“We had to stop for two weeks to allow the Cook Islands
Games to be played as football was part of the competition which I believe
impacted a lot on the players themselves having to play a lot of football
before the games.
“During the games and the catch-up matches after the Cook
Islands Games, you would see a lot of fatigue and injuries that players
Puaikura women made a clean sweep winning the senior women
Round Cup and Knockout Cup titles.
In the men’s Knockout Cup, Nikao claimed the title after
overcoming arch-rivals Tupapa 2-1.
“Congratulations to all clubs who have claimed the 2020
Round Cup titles in the respective divisions and the CIFA Knockout Cup titles,
we look forward to 2021,” Dean said.
“It is good to see this (new champions) as it shows that the
football competition is alive and well and competitive at senior level. From
our president, Lee Harmon, executive board members, staff and all our island
associations and clubs, we would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a
Happy New Year.”