Cook Islands edge Samoa in fiery Group A encounter

OFC Release - The Cook Islands were able to hold on to a 1-0 lead at half-time to beat their Polynesian rivals Samoa by the same margin in the second round of Group A action at the 2003 OFC U-17 Qualifying Tournament.
The match was fiercely contested by both sides with Cook Islands able to step up from an average performance against American Samoa in the first round. Samoa was never allowed into their rhythm and was forced into turnovers by the solid Cook Islands defensive line.
The Cook Islands also used their possession wisely and were rewarded with a well taken goal to Frank Jim, which was huge morale booster just before the break. In the second half, the Cooks came out with renewed vigour while Samoa battled to peg back the deficit.
However, the match turned sour in the latter stages with two players sent off in separate incidents. Cook Islands player Trens Poila copped a second yellow card to get his marching orders while Samoan substitute Otto Hoeflich was shown a red card for violent conduct on a Cooks player.
The Cook Islands were able to stave off a desperate rally by the Samoans at the end to earn a well deserved victory. Samoan coach David Brand will have to regroup his players quickly if they are not to suffer a backlash from Fiji, hurting from their loss to New Caledonia in the first round.
The Cooks Islands play Group A leaders New Caledonia in the third round on Monday (local time).

Photo: Samoa U-17 squad


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