Sunday, August 28
Living in a tropical island paradise in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean has its advantages but it makes it difficult for our sports teams to get high quality international experience. It was good, therefore, to have a top New Zealand soccer team visit our shores a couple of weeks ago.
Waitakere United from West Auckland are NZ champions and they certainly showed their class in the one-off match at CIFA’s Matavera headquarters.
The local boys managed to contain the visitors for a while but after half an hour or so Waitakere hit their stride and by halftime they were four-nil ahead.
Campbell Best pulled one back for the home side early in the second half but Waitakere scored another four for a convincing 8-1 win.
The CI soccer teams (men’s and women’s) are now in New Caledonia at the 14th Pacific Games.
The Cooks men had a disappointing start when they lost their first match against Papua New Guinea 4-0.
Other teams in the soccer competition are Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Guam and American Samoa (in descending FIFA rank order) plus Papua New Guinea, Kiribati and Tuvalu who don’t seem to be ranked at the moment, probably because they haven’t played any qualifying internationals recently. I expect that may change after the Pacific Games.
Well, we’ve had a bit of controversy on Rarotonga with the government having to bail out CISNOC, the local sporting organisation who should have been organising the games squad. They announced two weeks before the team was due to depart that they didn’t have enough money to pay for the airfares. The athletes all made it to New Caledonia but it was probably a bit upsetting for them. Might have slowed them down on the field.
Good luck to them for the rest of the games. There’s a Pacific Games website here to keep in touch with events.