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Sāmoa took a major step to qualifying, beating Tonga 4-1 on hometurf.

Photo/OFC Media


OFC says players outside the country give an edge as Sāmoa inch closer to men's Nations Cup

Following a 4-1 victory against Tonga, Sāmoa sets their sights on their last match against the Cook Islands this weekend, determining if they qualify for the Nations Cup

Vaimaila Leatinu'u
Aui'a Vaimaila Leatinu'u
21 March 2024, 5:07pm
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An Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) official says Sāmoa's internationally-based players have given them an edge, following their latest victory at the qualifying tournament.

Sāmoa took a major step towards qualifying for the OFC Men's Nations Cup this week after scoring a 4-1 victory against hosts Tonga at Teufaiva Stadium in Nuku'alofa.

OFC Spokesperson Matt Brown says there is improvement in the competition standards, especially with Sāmoa's team consisting of players raised outside of Sāmoa.

"Some are New Zealand-based and there's an American-based player as well," Brown says.

He says in international football that developing your grassroots players is important but including players living outside a home country is also essential.

"New Zealand's done it for years. It's the reality if you want to improve and compete at a higher level."


Brown points out the Sāmoan team's technical director Ravinesh Kumar's extensive resume, having coached at the Papakura club in New Zealand and was the technical director for the Fiji Football Association.

"He's the technical director in Sāmoa now and has taken on the national coaching role as well.

"They looked really well drilled and very structured in their play. The Tongan's also with technical director Kilifi Uele had some skilful play but lacked a bit of structure."

The Sāmoan team take on the Cook Islanders on Saturday which will determine if they get a spot at the Nations Cup in Vanuatu in June.

Brown says the Cook Islands team also have a promising composition with players hailing from across the globe, likely driven by their population size.

"I think the population of Cook Islands is around 17,000. They've drawn on a lot of players with Cook Islands heritage from around the world.

"I think there are 6 based in Australia, 5 based in New Zealand and one based in Germany.

"They're trying to build their strength and depth by pulling from far and wide. I think they've got half a dozen from the Cooks championing Tupapa-Maraerenga."

Brown says the Cook Islanders must maintain cohesion against the Sāmoan side to gain the upper hand. He says they have had two days together in Auckland for a few practice games before arriving in Tonga.

"It'll be interesting to see how they go against a pretty well-drilled Sāmoan side."

A total of two matches remain for the qualifiers where after Sāmoa and the Cook Islands clash on Saturday, Tonga will take on the Cooks the following Tuesday.

Tonga's chance of qualifying for Vanuatu rests in the hands of the Cook Islanders upsetting Sāmoa otherwise their next match as Brown puts it will be "dead rubber".

Watch the full interview via 531pi's Facebook page below:

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