The Samoa national Under-16 men’s football team has departed Samoa to compete in the 2018 Oceania Football Federation Under-17 men’s championship in Tonga.
The tournament will be held in Nukualofa from July 14-20. The team will play a friendly game with national Samoan football players in New Zealand before the championship gets underway.
Their first game at the championship will be against the Cook Islands, followed by American Samoa and Tonga.
Head coach Suva Martin Tamasese said the team is a mix of both local and overseas players.
“There are 18 players selected to represent Samoa, and for our team, it consists more of local players than overseas players. Some of the difficulties faced were the clash between the training schedules and the time players finish school, by the time they have trainings it ends late,” he said, while adding that the team is ready to face their opponents.
“In terms of scouting players, it was difficult for some to attend due to prioritization of education. The performance by the boys so far, I guarantee that they are ready, out of 10 friendly games we had, there was only one loss.”
A team’s defense can win games and the coach made reference to that when discussing their game plan.
“A strategy our team has is its strong defense, as a saying we have in football, a team with a good defense is a winning team and I believe our boys are ready for whatever will come our way. I am confident our boys will win this tournament, but the team which I think will prove to be a great challenge is the first team we will be playing against and that is Cook Islands,” he said.
Team captain, Lotial Mano, said: “I am more than ready along with my team mates. We are more than prepared to play in the upcoming tournament. My family and friends have been very supportive about my games. I truly believe with great faith in God we can achieve so much.”
The football team will qualify for the next tournament in the Solomon Islands this year if they win the tournament.