Group B: Match 9 - Cooks survive late scare
But not after a second half fright that saw the losing team peg back the difference to just one goal after being down 0-2 at the break.
Playing for pride and their first points - and goals - of the tournament it was not surprising that both teams went all out on attack from the opening whistle. American Samoa showed their hand in a bizarre tactical decision by starting their impressive goalkeeper, Nicky Salapu, at striker with LBJ Misi Maluia coming off the bench to make his first start of the tournament in goal.
But it was the Cooks who got off to the better start when Tuka Tisam made no mistake in the 18th minute. His young strike partner Campbell Best - who had a superb game - added their team's second goal seven minutes later.
American Samoa did well to hang on till the break, but they struggled to contain the Tisam and Best up front and committed too many errors when they did have possession.
Cook Islands came out firing after the break and were rewarded when Best was fouled in the box, handing a gift penalty which Tisam ably finished to put the Cooks to a commanding 3-0 lead.
Somehow, American Samoa was kick-started into action. Having made two substitutions at the break after the dismal display in the first half, they cut down their error rate and with the Cooks defence tiring, they steadily played their way back into the match.
Duane Atuelevao instigated American Samoa's first goal in the 67th minute from a sensational solo effort and two minutes later got his second goal which had the Cooks reeling. But time soon ran out on the American Samoans who played with more vigour and with more belief after scoring those two goals. The Cooks held on to win 3-2 and finish fourth in Group B behind New Zealand, Vanuatu and Tonga.
Match 9: American Samoa vs Cook Islands / Statistical Review
Full-time score: 2-3 (Cook Islands)
Half-time score: 0-2 (Cook Islands)
Date/Time: Thursday, 22 January - 5:00pm (NZT)
Cooks - (19) Tuka Tisam 17', 46'; Campbell Best 24
Am Samoa - (9) Duane Atuelevao 67', 69
Cautions: American Samoa - (3) Jason Fa'ataualofa 58'
Weather: Fine weather, mild, excellent ground conditions
Crowd attendance: 200
Referee: Andrew Moli (Solomon Islands)
Assistant Referee 1: John Peacock (Australia)
Assistant Referee 2: Collin Auvele (Samoa)
Fourth Official: Gidas Bayung (PNG)
Match Commissioner: Madiu Andrew (PNG)
Referee Inspector: Ken Wallace (New Zealand)
Team Line-ups (& Substitutes)
18. LBJ Misi MALUIA (GK)
2. Levaula FATU
3. Jason FA'ATAUALOFA
5. Reno Montana AMISONE (-45')
6. Ovite Ace LEPOU
9. Duane Faaou ATUELEVAO
12. Andrew Soosemea TINAE
13. Maika Kenneth MOLESI
14. Alexander VICTOR (-45')
17. Ramin Shahin OTT
19. Nicky Vitolio SALAPU (C) (-77')
1. Elvis Simon SEUMANU
4. Terrence Leo SINAPATI
7. Baby MULIPOLA
8. Viliamu VAOFANUA (+45')
10. Ben Falaniko SAGAIGA (+45')
15. Ito TELESA
16. Fa'amanu SIUTA (+77')
Coach: Pacifico Abadia
1 Romeo VAINE KEU (GK)
3 Roururoroa UNE
5 Paul - Luiz VAN EIJK
6 Anonga Nardu TISAM
7 Christian Moerai TAUIRA
8 Eugenie TATUAVA
9 Teatu-R. ROURU PUTERE (-90')
13 David Norman ANGENE
16 Teariki MATEARIKI (-76')
18 Campbell John BEST
19 Tuka TISAM
2 Tereroa MATAIO
10 James Thomas VARNEY
11 Michael Charles VARNEY (+90')
12 Samuel SHEPHERD
14 Henry John MUNRO
15 Tereapii ANGENE (+76')
17 Victor SAMUEL
20 Taranivao Taikava TEKEU (RSK)
Coach: Jimmy Katoa
Last Modified on 25/01/2004 13:24