9-man Kiwi F.C. suffer big loss in Cook Islands
Hosts Tupapa Maraerenga FC produced a devastating performance to brush aside their Samoan rivals Kiwi FC on the opening match day at the 2019 OFC Champions League Qualifier tournament.
Expectant local fans didn’t need to wait long for something to cheer about as Harlem Simiona and Grover Harmon were both on target inside the opening 20 minutes to give the tournament hosts Tupapa Maraerenga a two goal lead against Kiwi FC in the second match of the opening day.
Federico Diaz pulled a goal back for the Samoan champions from the penalty spot before Tyrell Barringer-Tahiri restored his side’s two goal cushion in the 27th minute.
Following a frantic and entertaining first half Kiwi FC still had every reason to fancy their chances before red cards to Falaniko Nanumea in the 61st minute and another to Andrew Setefano seven minutes later sealed the Samoans’ fate.
To make matter worse for the visitors Ben Mata made no mistake from the penalty spot to seal a 4-1 victory for the hosts in the 70th minute.
Kiwi FC fought bravely with nine men in the last 20 minutes to keep the scores at bay and even created a couple of chances of their own on the counter to the delight of their coach Martin Tamasese.
“Yes nine against eleven but we still managed to hold on.
“We still have hope for the two more games left, the boys know what happened here today is now finished, we just have to prepare for the rest of the tournament,” the former Samoan international said.
Despite a few positives for the Samoan champions it was the locals who had every reason to celebrate and Tupapa coach Delenay Yaqona couldn’t hide his delight.
“It was a really good game, we were really looking forward to it, we really wanted to win it, we knew they were going to be our toughest opposition in this tournament and it was good to win it and get it out of the way”.
Yaqona believes there is a strong bond between his players which bodes well for the hosts’ chances for the rest of the tournament.
“The boys know each other, they are like brothers out there and their little connections on the field have been there for a couple of years now,” the Tupapa coach explained.