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Cook Islands out to break winless run in OFC U19 Championship

Tuesday 13 September 2022 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Soccer, Sports

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Cook Islands out to break winless run in OFC U19 Championship
Cook Islands’ starting 11 before their match against Solomon Islands. Fédération Tahitienne de Football/22091206

Cook Islands lost their second OFC U19 Championship 2022 match in Tahiti after going down to Solomon Islands 0-3 on Sunday.

The national side lost to New Zealand 0-8 in the opening match and will take on the winless American Samoa in its final pool match this afternoon.

Cook Islands will need a positive result against American Samoa to have a chance of qualifying as one of the best third-placed teams.

Solomon Islands booked their spot in the top eight alongside New Zealand, after goals from Selwyn Hou, Paul Francis and Junior Rocky decided a tight contest against the Cooks at Stade Fautaua.

Just as they did in their opening game of the tournament against New Zealand, the Cook Islands found themselves a goal down inside two minutes. Rocky pinched the ball from sprawling Cook Islands goalkeeper Ngereine Maro to cross for Hou, who headed home the opener from close-range.

Maro then did well to deny Francis after a delightful piece of skill from the forward in the box. However, Francis did not have to wait long for his fourth goal of the competition, albeit in fortuitous fashion, as his half-volley deflected off Nuku Mokoroa and looped over the helpless Maro.

The Cook Islands did demonstrate their threat from set-pieces shortly after, Nia Remuera nearly pulling a goal back after a deep free-kick into Solomons territory.

However, it was a rare foray forward, with Maro again saving brilliantly to deny Alden Suri as half-time approached and twice again early in the second period from Francis and Rocky.

The last time these two nations met at a OFC U-19 Championship was back in 2016, with the Solomons winning 3-0. With 20 minutes left they emulated that scoreline, Rocky poking the ball beyond Maro after Suri’s effort had bounced kindly into his path.

Resolute defending from the likes of Mokoroa and Remuera kept the Solomons at bay for the rest of the fixture.

-Additional reporting by OFC Media