Cook Islands make Fiji work hard for 4-1 win

OFC Release - Fiji were made to work hard for its 4-1 win over the Cook Islands yesterday at Tafuna Veteran's Memorial Stadium in American Samoa.
The Cook Islands team never backed down to the challenge from the first whistle and though they were looking down the barrel of a 0-3 deficit at the break, they put on a valiant performance in the second half.
Cook Islands shared the second half honours, scoring a moral victory by restricting Fiji to one goal while scoring a putting one over the Fijians with a penalty taken by Geoffrey Strickland in the 77th minute.
The physical play of the Cook Islands team unsettled the Fijians from their usual patterns and relentless man on marking thwarted many of the Fijian attacks.
The skill level of the Fijian players told in the end, although the Cook Islands showed just what can be achieved with commitment and self-belief. They set out to attack from the start aiming to win rather than sit back on defence, keep the score down and justify the pre-match predictions.
While not overly convincing in the manner of victory, the Fijians would know they were in a game and happy to walk away with the vital three points and peg back the deficit with Group A leaders New Caledonia. One player to walk away with credit for Fiji was Maciu Dunadamu who scored a hat-trick of goals, two in the first half and the third in the second half.
The only sour point for the Cook Islands was Trens Poila being sent off for a dangerous tackle from behind on a Fijian player near the end. It was Poila's second red card of the tournament. The Cook Islands have a bye in the final round this Saturday (Friday local time) and finish on 4 points from one win over Samoa and a draw against American Samoa in the first round.


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