Samoa gears up for Oceania tourney

By Mathias Huckert ,

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LAST PREPARATIONS: Striker Andrew Mobberley and the team’s technical advisor Stuart Pyne.

LAST PREPARATIONS: Striker Andrew Mobberley and the team’s technical advisor Stuart Pyne.

The final days have come. Samoa’s national football team is going through the final stages of their preparations for the upcoming Oceania Football Confederation Nations Cup in Papua New Guinea.

During these last days of training, the team is aware that the achievements of the last tournament have to be surpassed this time, as the team’s technical advisor, Stuart Pyne, explained. 

“In the last competition, no game was won and very few goals were scored, but many were conceded. Our expectations for this time clearly are to go over and to make sure that we put in a great deal of effort, so that we don’t have to go back to prequalification for this tournament in four years.”

To achieve this realistic aim, the national team is doing everything they can to prepare for their time in Papua New Guinea. “Our overseas based players flew in on Sunday night, and at the moment we are having up to two training sessions every day, one in the morning and after a recovery session in the pool, there is another training in the late afternoon to evening.” According to Pyne, who was sent in from New Zealand to support the National team during the stages of preparation, this is done to “recreate the environment that the team will have to face in P.N.G.”, with the later trainings taking place at the same time when the matches will be held. As he stated, the climate situation might not be a big problem for the team’s players based in Samoa. “That will not at all be a problem. The local boys are used to it. Some of them have been a part of the team for a long time now and they have done extensive travel around the islands, so they absolutely know what to expect.”

As for a specific line up of the team, it all comes down to the evaluations done by head coach Scott Easthope. “If the players are matching the skills that Scott believes fit best for the national team’s playing philosophy, then they will participate in the O.F.C. tournament. That will certainly adjust depending on the team we will be playing against. Therefore, the starting eleven for the Tahiti game might not necessarily be the same as for the match against Papua New Guinea later in the competition,” Mr. Pyne told Samoa Observer.

To fit best into the team, the players have to show how much they want to achieve a good position for their team. “There has to be effort and they need to work hard to put themselves in the picture of playing.”

One of those who is showing this effort is Andrew Mobberley. The striker with the nickname “white shark” has had the ability to put on the jersey for his home country Samoa for three times now, during the first group stage for the tournament that took place in Tonga. “I know that for our team, every game will be tough, but I am pretty confident that if we do our best in the tournament, we can be proud of ourselves. But of course it is always an honour to play for our country.” 

Speaking of tough games, Samoa’s team will have to face the last competition’s winning squad from Tahiti. “That will certainly be a hard match, but if we come in with a good game plan and the right organisation, anything can really happen,” the 24-year old player explained.

To come up with this right game plan, the team’s coaching staff has a cleverly worked out training plan in mind, as Technical Advisor Stuart Pyne illustrated. “We’ve been doing some extensive scouting on the team of Tahiti and we will adjust our squad accordingly to match our strengths. But we also have the option to set up a test match this week that we will film. Within this match, we will try to mimic the style of play that our opponents have, and afterwards the players can study the video footage, just in order to adapt to the best way of playing in the tournament.”

With the O.F.C. Cup starting next Sunday, the Samoan national team will leave on the 24th of May, with a stopover in Auckland. “We will fly from New Zealand to Brisbane and from there, we will directly go to Port Moresby, where we have to attend the tournament’s opening ceremony. After that, there will only be some final adjustments and then the tournament will begin for us,” Pyne stated.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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