Kiwi FC had their first session back at training yesterday having returned from a successful trip to the Cook Islands for the OFC Champions League qualifying tournament.
The team got back on Sunday after over a week in the Cook Islands, where they came second with two wins and a loss.
Coach Martin Tamasese said they went in to the tournament wanting first place.
“It’s still a good result for us to progress to the next stage.”
Kiwi FC are in Group C of the Champions League group stage, with games to be played from the 23rd of February to the 1st of March in Vanuatu.
They will come up against the reigning champions New Zealand side Team Wellington, Ba from Fiji, and hosts Erakor Golden Star.
Tamasese said they will all be difficult games.
“Moving up to that level is really a challenge.”
However, he said switching to a different style of play and defensive pattern should make them competitive in the group.
Tamasese said Kiwi relied on the speed of their counterattack as their main strength in the Cook Islands, which worked particularly well in their final, decisive 9-1 win over Lotoha’apai United to secure second place.
“It was good for the boys and I thank them for doing the stuff that we tried to work on.”
He said they’ll try to bring that same counterattack to the next games, backed by more defensive solidity.
Kiwi FC are having a training camp next week, staying at the Football Federation of Samoa complex and having training twice a day.
“To get the momentum and also the fitness for the boys.
“We can start to work on the stuff we need to improve.”
Around six players from the team that went to the Cook Islands have pulled out of the group stage because of injuries, or commitments to school and work.
The Samoa men’s national team training camp in China over a few months ahead of the Pacific Games has been delayed slightly until after Kiwi FC return from Vanuatu, so those players can take part.
Tamasese said it’s good for the Samoan football community that the players participate in everything, to expose the talent and get new ideas.
“This year will be busy for the players, as well as the coaching staff.”
He wanted to acknowledge everyone that has supported Kiwi FC to compete across the Oceania region.
Tamasese said the Oceania Football Confederation pay airfares for everyone, but the rest of the bill gets left to the clubs.
He said the Football Federation of Samoa, Tanoa Hotel, other Samoan football clubs, and the pastors, churches, parents and supporters of Kiwi FC have got them to this point.
“We’ve made it to the second stage, and we still need that support to help us progress and move forward.”’